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JLT Novices’ Chase betting tips: 25/1 outsider Khan’t be ignored in St Patrick’s day opener

    A view of the runners in the JLT. (credit:Credit by bettingpro)

    Our expert takes a look through the betting for this Grade One on day three of the Cheltenham Festival and provides readers with his tips on Thursday 14th March.

    The opening race on St Patrick’s day at Cheltenham is the JLT Novices’ Chase. This two-and-a-half-miler may have a short history, but it’s been won by some excellent horses since it’s inception in 2011, with Sir Des Champs, Taquin De Seuil and Vautour all opening day three with fantastic winning performances.

    The rivalry between Lostintranslation (3/1 William Hill) and Defi Du Seuil (7/2 Ladbrokes) has lit up the novice chasing scene in Britain this season, with the pair trading victories in two high-profile chases over this trip, so it’s no surprise to see both sitting atop the current JLT betting.

    First, it was Lostintranslation who claimed the bragging rights, battling back bravely after being headed by his rival to win the Dipper here at Cheltenham. Barry Geraghty then gave Defi Du Seuil a peach of a ride to win the Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown, striking late in the day to beat Lostintranslation by just under a length.

    Whether it’s because this race lands on St Patrick’s day or not, but for some reason, Irish horses have a fantastic record in the JLT. Raiders from across the Irish Sea have won seven of the eight editions of this Grade One and Ireland’s leading light this year looks to be Real Steel (7/1 Betfair).

    Willie Mullins did have his eye on the Close Brothers for his six-year-old, but a pair of ten-length victories have sent his rating past the 145 ceiling for that Listed Handicap. The revelation of that plan suggests Mullins isn’t completely confident his charge is of Grade One quality, but Real Steel clocked an RPR of 154 when beating three quality opponents in a Rated Chase the last day and he cannot be discounted too quickly.

    Topofthegame (14/1 Unibet) is one of my favourite horses in training and he looks set for a seismic clash with Delta Work (12/1 William Hill) in the RSA. The Channon team are sure the Arkle is the best race for the improving Glen Forsa (8/1 Betfair) and I’d be surprised if Amy Murphy decided to step Kalashnikov (16/1 William Hill) up in trip, despite losing heavily to Glen Forsa in the Kingmaker.

    Kildisart (12/1 Unibet) will carry a course-and-distance victory into the JLT, having held off Highway One O One and Spiritofthegames (33/1 Ladbrokes) to win a high-quality renewal of the Timeform Novices’ Handicap. The Close Brothers was also being touted for Ben Pauling’s charge, but that’s not an option now Kildisart has reached a mark of 147 and I’m not sure you’re getting much in the way of each-way value on his current price of 12/1.

    Shattered Love became the first mare to win the JLT at the Festival last year. Willie Mullins will be hoping either Camelia De Cotte (25/1 William Hill) or Pravalaguna (25/1 Betfair) can follow in her footsteps, after claiming lengthy victories on their previous outing, but neither managed to challenge when thrown into mixed-sex company over fences earlier in the season.

    Vinndication (20/1 Ladbrokes) went off as the favourite for the Scilly Isles, but couldn’t match Lostintranslation and Defi Du Seuil in terms of jumping and could only stay on to finish third. Kim Bailey identified this horse as a future Gold Cup contender at the start of the season, despite the fact he’s never raced around a left-handed track and Vinndication will have a point to prove if he makes his Cheltenham debut.

    I’m really struggling to split Lostintranslation and Defi Du Seuil at the top of the market. I think switching back to Cheltenham will suit Lostintranslation more, but Defi Du Seuil ran well over course-and-distance in the Dipper, when giving his rival three pounds at the weights. Given my reticence to side with one of the two, and the sizeable gap which is sure to form behind them in the betting, an each-way punt looks the most sensible plan of attack.

    Vinndication offers each-way value at 20/1, as does Spiritofthegames, who ran a blinder under top-weight to finish a close third to Kildisart in the Timeform. Yet, Ireland’s record in the JLT shouldn’t be overlooked and I’m going to take a big chance and back MENGLI KHAN (25/1 William Hill) at 25s.

    I’ve always been a fan of Gordon Elliott’s six-year-old. After winning a Grade One winner over hurdles, Mengli Khan was my each-way selection in last year’s Supreme and he was in with every chance of winning approaching the last, only for a lack of finishing pace to prevent him matching Summerville Boy in the closing stages.

    After cruising to victory on his first start over fences at Punchestown, beating Forge Meadow by ten lengths without ever coming off the bridle, Mengli Khan was pushed towards the head of the betting for the Arkle. Sadly, Elliott’s charge has twice been comfortably beaten by Le Richebourg since then, finishing a long way short of his rival in the Racing Post Arkle and the Frank Ward.

    Following his most recent defeat, Elliott declared a step-up in trip may be the way to go with this former flat racer. The man from County Meath has a few issues to iron out – Mengli Khan has been a little tentative on his approach to fences and can jump a little out to his right. Yet, he remains a horse of undoubted quality and he ran well around this track in last year’s Supreme. That price of 25/1 will shorten when the final declarations are announced, so I’m going to jump on it while it lasts!

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    JLT Novices’ Chase betting tips: 25/1 outsider Khan’t be ignored in St Patrick’s day opener

    Our expert takes a look through the betting for this Grade One on day three of the Cheltenham Festival and provides readers with his tips on Thursday 14th March.

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