2021 Marsh Novices Chase Guide

Cheltenham - March 18 2021
Cheltenham 13:20
6
Jack Kennedy

Envoi Allen

J:
 
Jack Kennedy
T:
 
Henry De Bromhead
Age: 7
Weight: 11-4
OR: 164
Days: -40

Envoi Allen has been one of the leading jumps horses in the sport over the last two years and now stepping up to go over fences this term, everyone just wants to know how good he can truly be.

The Cheveley Park owned stud is a dual Cheltenham festival winner having taken the Champion Bumper and Ballymore Novices hurdle in consecutive years and is gearing his season towards a third straight win at the event in the Marsh Novices' Chase.

The six year old has gone from strength to strength under Elliott landing all 12 of his races to date, winning one point to point, four bumpers, four hurdle contests and also extended his winning run last time out in his first Grade One win over fences.

Stepping over the bigger obstacles this season, he was very impressive at Down Royal, jumping his fences superbly and showing his classy travelling ability as he has throughout his career.

Elliott then stepped him up to Grade One company at Fairyhouse in the Drinmore Novice Chase and gave another standout performance to take the event by close to nine lengths.

At Punchestown earlier this month he was looking to make it three from three over fences a Grade Three event and was giving serious weight away to the rest of the field, but with Asterion Forlonge falling at the first it made for an easier ride round and again he was foot perfect.

He looks difficult to beat if on song.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
11/11/23DRO24Sft11-102
30/09/23GOW20Hy11-123
26/04/23PUN24Y11-104
16/03/23CHL20.5Sft11-101
26/12/22KEM24Sft11-107
Cheltenham - March 18 2021
Cheltenham 13:20
8
Harry Skelton

Shan Blue

J:
 
Harry Skelton
T:
 
Dan Skelton
Age: 7
Weight: 11-4
OR: 152
Days: -22

Having been a fair hurdler, this season he has taken his form to the next level by making his chase debut at Wetherby in October over 2m4f and winning by 14 lengths.

Off the back of that he went back to Wetherby and was stepped up to three miles for the first time in his career and he went on again to win by 16 lengths.

He showed clear stamina that day and his biggest asset is how well he jumps a fence, which made the Skelton's happy enough to send him to Kempton for the Grade On Kauto Star Novices' Chase.

He took on some nice horses including The Big Breakaway and blew them away in the final stages, jumping his rivals into submission.

Last time out he was pitched back into Grade One company at Sandown in the Scilly Isles Chase and although jumping well was outstayed by Sporting John.

He is a solid jumper that will bomb out in front and hope to stay on for the duration.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
17/02/24ASC24GS11-53
23/12/23ASC19Gd11-83
09/12/23CHP23.5Hy11-7PU
18/11/23CHL24Sft11-7PU
26/12/22WET24GS11-3PU
Cheltenham - March 18 2021
Cheltenham 13:20
3
Nico de Boinville

Chantry House

J:
 
Nico de Boinville
T:
 
Nicky Henderson
Age: 7
Weight: 11-4
OR: 151
Days: -22

The JP McManus owned gelding first took the eye when winning at Warwick in decent bumper on heavy ground which saw him beat the likes of Edwardstone and Shan Blue, who both go on to become established national hunt horses.

Having just the one spin under rules he was next seen again in December 2019, this time on his hurdles debut at Cheltenham, just doing enough to see off the likes of Stolen Silver, Pipesmoker and Pileon.

All of those horses went on to win next time out and frank Chantry House's form, it was then left for the Nicky Henderson runner to do the same and he obliged at Newbury winning hard held.

This set him up perfectly for a crack at the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival where he finished a valiant third behind two superstars in stablemate Shishkin and Abacadabras.

The Seven Barrows handler always said that Chantry House would make into a nice chaser and he looked to be a star in the making over the bigger obstacles on debut at Ascot.

Although seeing off a tame field he went on to win the event by 26 growing lengths and off that performance it is going to take a smart horse to beat him.

He then went to Cheltenham and ran no sort of race, finishing third of four runners behind stablemate Fussil Raffles, but he looked a shadow of himself.

Henderson admitted he had a back problem and with that rectified he went to Wetherby in February and got back to winning ways in fine style.

He will be sure to improve for that run and has a live each way chance.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
25/01/24HUN25GS12-04
09/12/23SAN23.5Hy12-07
18/11/23CHL24Sft12-03
26/12/22WET24GS11-13F
03/12/22AIN25GS11-10UR
Cheltenham - March 18 2021
Cheltenham 13:20
4
Darragh O'Keeffe

Chatham Street Lad

J:
 
Darragh O'Keeffe
T:
 
Michael Winters
Age: 9
Weight: 11-4
OR: 156
Days: -10

Sent chasing this season the gelding has been a revelation for the yard over fences, winning three of his five outings over the larger obstacles and landing a superb event at Cheltenham back in December.

Having won on debut in Ballinrobe, he was then less than impressive at Galway, but that can be put down to a blip as he got back to winning ways at Cork next time out.

The horse still not well known at all, Winters sent him to Cheltenham's December meeting and he went on to land the Grade Three Caspian Caviar Gold Cup by a staggering 15 lengths.

In red hot form, last time out at Fairyhouse he was looking to keep his momentum going but had to settle for third in a strong handicap and having now had a break off the track after these runs, his connections have pinned this race as his target for a while.

Cheltenham - March 18 2021
Cheltenham 13:20
7
Daryl Jacob

Fusil Raffles

J:
 
Daryl Jacob
T:
 
Nicky Henderson
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 152
Days: -21

Fusil Raffles is Nicky Hendersons' second runner in the race and has a superb profile throughout his career, having been a Grade One winner over hurdles and this season taking to fences superbly.

This term he has been seen four times and has gone on to win three of those events, with two of those victories coming at Cheltenham.

He made his debut over fences at Uttoxeter in a decent five runner events, with third placed Gumball going on to win next time out.

The gelding was then sent to Cheltenham in November and extended his winning ways in a four runner event, but next time out gave his only poor run of the season when pulled up over the same course and distance.

With that blip out of the way, he went back to Cheltenham in December and got back to winning ways in a Novices' Chase stepping up to 2m4f for the first time.

It suited him really well and if fresh after a small break could be a live each way player.

Cheltenham - March 18 2021
Cheltenham 13:20
1
Paul Townend

Asterion Forlonge

J:
 
Paul Townend
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 7
Weight: 11-4
OR: 150
Days: -43

Last season over hurdles he has shown a superb attitude, winning at Naas on his jumps debut seeing off a decent Gordon Elliott trained runner who has since franked the form.

From just the one run over flights he headed to the Dublin Racing festival at Leopardstown in the Grade One Pharma Novice Hurdle and caused a shock when taking the race.

He was then entered into the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and although going off as favourite for the event jumped way out to his right and had to settle for fourth, a long way behind the leaders.

Sent chasing by Mullins this term, things have not gone to plan and shipping him into this race looks more like a fact finding mission.

The gelding owned by the Donnelly's made a pleasing debut at Punchestown when winning an 18 runner Beginners' Chase by six lengths, overcoming a big blunder.

Since then he has been pitched into two Graded events at Limerick and Punchestown and fell on both occasions, showing how much of a novice he is.

He was last seen taking on stablemate Monkfish in the Grade One Flogas Novice Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival and although giving a clear round of jumping, he was no match for for the favourite, finishing back in fourth.

He is a big price for this event and on what he has shown recently deserves to be.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
28/12/23LEO23.5Hy11-102
26/11/23PUN19.5Sft11-125
20/05/23AUT25.5VSft10-1010
27/04/23PUN23.5Gd/Y11-102
10/04/23FAI20Y/Sft11-31
Cheltenham - March 18 2021
Cheltenham 13:20
2
B J Cooper

Blackbow

J:
 
B J Cooper
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 8
Weight: 11-4
OR: 153

A big priced entrant for Willie Mullins, eight year old Blackbow has improved markedly for a switch to the larger obstacles, but may find a few too good in this one 0/4 as a hurdler, he broke his maiden under rules when winning well on chase debut.

Some smart horses were in his wake that day including Entoucas and Defi Bleu.

Subsequently tried in a Grade One at Christmas, he fell early in the race and gave no real indication as to how he stacked up at the top table.

Two starts ago he was well beaten behind stable mate Energumene in a Novice Chase at Naas and then last time out he was third again behind the superstar stablemate at the Dublin Racing Festival.

That third in the Irish Arkle did see him beat some smart horses into third, but taking on better horses again in this event could leave him vulnerable.

Cheltenham - March 18 2021
Cheltenham 13:20
5
Keith Donoghue

Darver Star

J:
 
Keith Donoghue
T:
 
Gavin Cromwell
Age: 9
Weight: 11-4
OR: 154
Days: -53

Slightly older than most of his counterparts, Gavin Cromwell’s Darver Star was highly consistent last season as a hurdler. Third in the Royal Bond, Second in the Irish Champion hurdle and third in the Cheltenham Champion hurdle make up a smart looking CV.

He took to fences immediately and won well at Punchestown on chase debut by 12 lengths to Le Musigny.

Heavy ground blunted his ability next time out at Grade Two level and he only managed third when sent off favourite behind Felix Desjy and Sizing Pottsie.

A return to a sounder surface saw him run well again at Leopardstown over the same course and distance behind the impressive Franco De Port, only beaten 4.5 lengths.

However, he was totally below par last time out when seventh of nine runners in the Grade One Irish Arkle and although the drying ground at Cheltenham will help, he looks vulnerable on that run