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The Inside Track on the JLT Novices’ Chase

In both quality and depth terms, the JLT is arguably the strongest of the novice chases at this year’s Festival.

Leading the market at the moment is FELIX YONGER for the all-conquering Willie Mullins yard. He looked special on his first three starts over fences, before the wheels came at Limerick over Christmas.

That day the ground was far too soft for his liking and back on better ground he’ll be a different animal.

At the beginning of the winter he beat Trifolium and Defy Logic with ease, which are comfortably the best bits of form on offer. His proven course form (second in the Neptune) strengthens his claims even more and he should be very hard to beat.

The problem I have with the English trio of Oscar Whisky, Taquin Du Seuil and Wonderful Charm is that they’ve all taken turns beating each other, which to me suggests none of them are anything out of the ordinary.

The biggest challenge from the home brigade is likely to come from Vukovar whose bold front-running style suits the new course down to the ground.

Also worth a second look in the entries are Double Ross and Colour Squadron, who both bring strong handicap form to the table. Both are already regulars over the course and distance and set a solid benchmark.

It would be surprising if they could ruffle up all the market leaders but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see one of them hit the frame.

If there is to be an upset then Sizing Gold is an obvious alternative. An embryonic chase like most of his connection’s horses, he’s convinced with his quick and accurate jumping this year. He failed to stay over 3m last time and back to a more suitable trip, he can outrun his odds.

Selection: Felix Yonger

Alternative: Sizing Gold