Pundits and commentators are bound to call this race the Melling Chase on Friday (April 5), but the sponsors have finally had their say and renamed it the JLT Chase. Nothing else has changed though and this grade one is still run over a distance just 20 yards short of two and a half miles.
Plenty of past champions catch the eye including Sprinter Sacre, Master Minded, and Moscow Flyer, and a small but select field of seven runners are set to try and add their name to that roll of honour.
Check out our trends, runner-by-runner guide, and free tip for the JLT Chase
JLT Chase Trends
No winner of the JLT Chase in the last decade has been younger than seven or older than nine and all but one of the last 10 winners had achieved a rating in the 160’s.
Favourites have a fair record in the race, with three outright favourites and one joint-favourite winning, whilst no winner has been returned at bigger than 11/1 in the last 10 years.
Only two winners had run more than four times in the same season prior to success, whilst Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls are the only trainers to have trained two winners in the last decade.
JLT Chase 2019 Runner-By-Runner Guide
Last year’s winner Politologue is vying for favouritism this year after being the longest-priced winner in the last decade at 11/1. That success came after outbattling Min in the shadows of the post and his old foe is set to re-oppose. He arrives here after running second to Altior in the Champion Chase and he looks likely to go close once more if in similar form.
This Willie-Mullins-trained eight-year-old was backed into 7/2 to beat Altior in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham so, with no Altior in the field this time, it’s amazing to think he’s a bigger price with some bookies here at around 4/1. That would be the biggest price he’s ever gone off at whilst with Mullins. He did flop at Cheltenham but, if connections have found out what was ailing him, his price could tumble as he seeks to exact revenge on Politologue.
If Politologue deserves to be a shorter price than Min because he’s beaten him the last twice they’ve met, then Waiting Patiently will surely go off favourite for the JLT Chase. Waiting Patiently beat the Paul Nicholls horse when they met as novices and also beat him when finishing second behind Politologue’s stablemate Cyrname at Ascot this season. A rating of 169 also entitles him to be favourite and connections have had their sights firmly set on this race since Ascot as they think the flat track will suit him ideally.
Has won seven times at trips of around two and a half miles and is trained by Nicky Henderson. However, he’s officially rated 7lb inferior to Waiting Patiently and was well-beaten by him on the only previous occasion they met. He’s also been beaten in seven of his eight runs in grade one company and has failed to be placed on two previous visits to Aintree.
This massive horse has taken time to fill his frame but his win at Ascot this season has been franked by the subsequent runs of the second Janika and he also ran creditably when fourth in the Champion Chase. However, he still finished a long way behind Politologue that day and he was well-beaten in a handicap chase at Aintree earlier this season.
Won the 2016 Melling Chase but this looks a tough ask at the age of 11. He also ran unplaced in the 2017 renewal and again finished out of the frame in the Old Roan Chase that year. He was also pulled up in the Champion Chase on his last start and age might be catching up with him.
Was in fine form earlier in the season, when he notched-up a quickfire hat-trick, but he’s not been as good the last twice he’s run. He also has 15lb to find with Waiting Patiently on official ratings and there’s no reason why he’s suddenly going to find that required improvement at the age of nine.
JLT Chase 2019 Verdict
Woodlands Opera, Gods Own, and Hell’s Kitchen are only rated in the 150’s, but the front-running Hell’s Kitchen should at least ensure this is a true test for the others. Top Notch also looks a shade below the class of Min, Politologue, and Waiting Patiently and it will be a surprise if one of the three market leaders doesn’t collect. Politologue has beaten Min the last twice they’ve met, but Waiting Patiently has beaten Politologue the last twice they’ve clashed and this test is expected to be ideal for Ruther Jefferson’s top-rated chaser.