Marsh Chase Analysis
Cheltenham Racecourse on 18th March
All 10 winners of the Marsh Novices’ Chase so far had run over hurdles at a previous Cheltenham Festival, with eight of those running at the last year’s Festival, while two had run at Cheltenham two seasons before. All 10 winners have also been aged six, seven, or eight. Irish-trained horses have won eight editions, with Willie Mullins saddling four of the first seven winners and Gordon Elliott saddling two of the last three.
The first two winners of the Marsh Novices’ Chase had run in handicaps at the previous Cheltenham Festival. Inaugural winner Noble Prince had finished fifth in the Coral Hurdle off a mark of 146, conceding between 8lb and 12lb to the four horses that finished in front of him. Embittered (33/1) put up a similar performance to that off 146 in the 2020 Coral Hurdle when finishing third.
2012 Marsh Novices’ Chase winner Sir Des Champs won the Martin Pipe off 134. Pileon (33/1) could be the one to take from the 2020 renewal of that race, having just got caught close home off 138. His trainer Philip Hobbs also won the 2019 Marsh Novices’ Chase.
Vautour is the only winner of the Marsh Novices’ Chase to have run in the previous season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, and he was an impressive winner of that race. Shiskin (12/1) could try and follow in his footsteps but his trainer Nicky Henderson says he is much more of an Arkle type.
Henderson also ran Chantry House (20/1) in the 2020 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, and he should be suited to a longer trip over fences. However, Henderson has yet to win the Marsh Novices’ Chase. Asterion Forlonge (33/1) was one place further back but it could be worth remembering he was the favourite on the day. He could be another suited to stepping-up in trip over fences for trainer Willie Mullins.
Klassical Dream (25/1) is also worthy of a mention for Mullins after winning the 2019 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He was favourite for the Champion Hurdle for much of last season but missed the Cheltenham Festival. He could be a big price if connections turn his attentions to chasing.
2016 Marsh Novices’ Chase winner Black Hercules finished seventh in the previous season’s Albert Bartlett. However, the main protagonists from the 2020 edition of the three-mile novices’ race all seemed to relish the longer trip. 2019 winner Defi Du Seuil had won the 2017 Triumph Hurdle but there’s no obvious candidate coming from that route.
It’s no surprise that five of the 10 winners of the Marsh Novices’ Chase had run in a Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle which is run over a similar trip. Yorkhill won that race the previous season, whilst Samcro had won it two years earlier and missed the festival in between. That means last year’s Ballymore winner Envoi Allen (9/2) is an obvious tip for the 2021 Marsh Novices’ Chase coming from the stable of Gordon Elliott.
Elliott has said that Envoi Allen is a three-mile chaser in the making so, with the possibility that the favourite could head to the RSA Chase, this year’s Ballymore runner-up Easy Work (25/1) could be overpriced. He’s also trained by Elliott, whilst owners Gigginstown Stud have also won this prize three times, including providing both of Elliott’s winners of the race.
The third and fourth from the 2020 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, The Big Getaway (16/1) and The Big Breakaway (40/1), also have huge potential as chasers. But it’s worth noting that three winners of the Marsh Novices’ Chase had only finished sixth, tenth, and twelfth in the Ballymore.
The horse that finished out of the frame in the 2020 Ballymore is Sporting John (40/1), who only finished seventh after a lacklustre performance. However, it’s worth noting that he was sent-off the second-favourite that day, and he wasn’t the only Phillip Hibbs-trained runner to run poorly at the Festival.