CeeBee has a big priced ante post selection for the JLT Chase at Cheltenham in the shape of the Willie Mullins trained Outlander at 25/1.
Outlander – JLT Novice Chase – 25/1
First the warning – he’ll be entered in the JLT, RSA and 4miler (maybe even the Arkle too - Willie did enter one novice in all 4 last year). However I feel the JLT is by far and away the more likely option and at 25/1 it’s worth the risk. With his form; had his Festival target been confirmed as the JLT he’d currently be around 8/1.
Reasons Outlander will go for the JLT:
1 – It’s his best trip. He got outstayed over 3miles last season before dropping back to claim a G2 over 2m4f. Both his chase wins have come at 2m4f and on neither occasion did he look to be crying out for further (or shorter).
2 – Gigginstown have No More Heroes heading the RSA betting. Whilst Willie usually has final say, Gigginstown did call the shots last year (with Don Poli going for the RSA when apparently Willie wanted to run him in the 4miler) so I’d expect a similar call this time as Giggi wish to keep their best apart.
3 - Willie also has Killultagh Vic and Pont Alexandre as potential RSA horses, so he should be open to keeping Outlander at 2m5f. Both of those have won over 3miles. Roi des Francs is another who having won over 3miles, would be the better option if Gigginstown wanted to be double handed in the RSA, although he looks 4 miler bound to my eyes.
4 – Outlander’s two wins dictate he can’t go down the handicap route. He has ran to too a high level already. Meausreofmydreams is the connections novice handicap chaser.
So having established he’ll run in the JLT, making an argument to back him at 25/1 shouldn’t be too difficult. He’s was a Grade 2 winning novice hurdler (from No More Heroes, Martello Tower, Windsor Park & Killultagh Vic) at Leopardstown last season. At Cheltenham the slow pace of the Neptune hurdle didn’t suit and he made a mistake that left him on the back foot at a vital time. Trying to concede 5lbs to Shaneshill was a tall ask at Fairyhouse and after that he wasn’t disgraced when 3rd at Punchestown despite it being his third spring festival appearance. Overall a decent novice hurdle campaign.
His novice chase form, 2 from 2, is possibly only bettered by Douvan and No More Heroes in Ireland. In his beginners chase he defeated the highly rated Free Expression with Walk to Freedom and Goulane Chosen well behind. Both GC and WTF got much closer to Shaneshill next time out than they had Outlander. WTF has also won since. Free Expression was beaten only 9L in the G1 Drinmore next time. Outlander’s second win was a G2 Novice Chase, where the manner of victory was much more comfortable than the 2L margin suggests. Stablemate Avant Tout chased him home.
Another stablemate Shaneshill heads the JLT betting, but if he jumps around Cheltenham like he did at Naas the last day he’ll end up on the deck. Plenty more towards the head of the betting won’t run here; Douvan, Tea for Two, More of That and Aux Ptits Soin would be the first few you can scratch. I’d imagine two of L'ami Serge, Vaniteux and Garde La Victoire will tackle the Arkle whilst the likes of Pont Alexandre, Killultagh Vic and Bitofapuzzle would probably be more suited to the 3mile test of the RSA.
It comes with a risk but he’s clearly the wrong price in a race likely to cut up significantly
1 point win Outlander – JLT Novice Chase at 25/1 with Ladbrokes & William Hill
Zabana is the other one I like in the JLT market. He reached a mark of 155 over hurdles last season. Not too many of this season’s novice chase crop can say that. He has run well over 3miles in the past so would be a far riskier ante-post proposition. He could run Sunday against Killultagh Vic so let’s see how that plays out first.