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O’Neill favouring a crack at the JLT with Taquin Du Seuil

Trainer Jonjo O’Neill is favouring a crack at the JLT Novices’ Chase over the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival with Taquin Du Seuil, and the gelding certainly has a positive profile for that race.

Although there are relatively few stats to go on as the contest was only introduced in 2011, every winner so far had previously run at the Festival 12 months earlier.

Noble Prince (2011) had finished fifth in the County Hurdle, Sir Des Champs (2012) had won the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle and Benefficient (2013) had finished 10th in the Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle.

Taquin De Seuil ticks the box for that stat having finished sixth to The New One in last year’s running of the Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle, and another big plus is that he heads to Cheltenham with strong recent form.

Of the three winners of the race so far, only Noble Prince has not recorded a victory last time out having been beaten just a short-head in his final prep run.

Taquin De Seuil won a Grade 2 contest at Haydock last time out by 17 lengths without coming off the bridle, so that has to be a positive as regards to his chances.

That win made it three wins out of five over fences for the strapping son of Voix Du Nord, and another things in his favour is that he has two runs under his belt this season over the Cheltenham sticks.

The seven-year-old beat Oscar Whisky when they first clashed at the track back in November when giving that rival 5lb, and was beaten just 3/4 of a length by Nicky Henderson’s charge when they last met in the Grade 2 Dipper Novices’ Chase on New Year’s Day where a stumble after the last could well have proved costly.

That course experience could prove invaluable, and he is 8/1 with Coral for the 2m 4f JLT.

Although he also holds an entry in the RSA, for which Taquin De Seuil is 12/1, his trainer belives it would be a big ask for him to tackle the 3m of that contest for the first time in his career at such a high profile meeting.

“We think he’d get three miles but it would be very hard to run him over it first time when you’re still a bit in the dark about it,” said the Jackdaws Castle handler. “It’s not been finally decided yet, but if it was left to me it would be the JLT.”