Marsh Novices' Chase Ante-Post Tips: Take Envoi Allen on with this exciting star

Marsh Novices' Chase Tips: Allart could offer a significant challenge to Envoi Allen.
Marsh Novices' Chase Tips: Allart could offer a significant challenge to Envoi Allen.

Steve Chambers takes a look at the 2021 Marsh Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, which will see Envoi Allen line-up as the red-hot favourite, and he picks out his best bets for the Grade 1 contest...

Eleven wins from as many starts has catapulted Envoi Allen into equine greatness in a relatively short space of time, and the Gordon Elliott-trained seven-year-old will look to extend his unbeaten run on day three of the Cheltenham Festival, and the Cullentra House inmate will be a red-hot favourite for the Grade 1 Marsh Novices' Chase.

A spectacular novice hurdle campaign ended last season with a sparkling four-and-a-quarter length win in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, while a switch to fences has seen him in an equally glittering light as three wins from three has seen his 100% record remain. The 2019 Champion Bumper winner's bid for chasing glory will be one of the highlights of the star-studded March 18 card, and he showed with a facile win on his chasing debut at prohibitive odds at Down Royal in October that he is certainly accustomed to the chasing game.

Upped in class for his next outing, Envoi Allen cruised to an easy win in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse, while he comfortably dispatched his rivals in the Killiney Novice Chase at Punchestown last month, but his job was made a lot easier following the early fall of the Willie Mullins-trained Asterion Forlonge. In all three chase victories, Envoi Allen has shown a real zest for jumping the larger obstacles and having shown his marvellous cruising speed throughout his career then he is entitled to be a warm order for the Marsh.

A shade of odds-on, at the time of writing, Envoi Allen has yet to be tested over fences, so it's been hard to assess how strong his winning chasing form is, but having shown to be a real class act throughout his career, and with two wins from two visits to Cheltenham then he lines up as the one they all have to beat. However, at the current prices he makes no appeal from an ante-post perspective, and it's worth looking elsewhere for a potential value angle in the race.

There's a multitude of classy novice chasers towards the top of the Marsh betting, but a whole host of the marquee names have multiple entries with some destined to tackle the shorter trip of the Arkle on day one of the Cheltenham Festival, while some more stamina-laden contenders may opt for the three-mile event on day two of the meeting.

Energumene (7/1) and Monkfish (7/1) both hold entries for the Marsh, but the former is a major rival to Shishkin in the Arkle and will head there, while Monkfish is one of the the stars of the Willie Mullins yard, and Monkfish is a red-hot favourite for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase, and will be tough to beat there.

Two horses that could feature fought out an exciting finish in the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown Park last week, as Sporting John got the better of Shan Blue in that Grade 1 affair. The Philip Hobbs-trained Sporting John surged home late to get the better of Dan Skelton's Shan Blue and with only two chase runs to his name then is entitled to improve. But, one niggling doubt is the manner in which he stayed on suggested that three miles could be his ultimate trip, and the Hobbs team have him entered for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase, and he could end up there.

However, Shan Blue holds one solitary Cheltenham Festival entry and that is the Marsh, so all roads lead to that race and having already tasted Grade 1 success in the Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day then he is one to watch. Sixth in the Ballymore at last season's festival, Shan Blue has excelled over fences winning a brace of races at Wetherby before tasting victory at Kempton over the Christmas period. Available at 12/1, Shan Blue could be many punter's idea of a decent each-way selection, but lurking below him there's possibly more attractive contenders, who could give Envoi Allen something to think about.

Nicky Henderson is still looking for his first success in the Marsh Novices' Chase, but he could unleash a strong contender in the shape of Allart, who sparkled on his chasing debut before falling on his last start over fences. Fifth in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle last season, Allart was handed a stiff test on his chasing debut as he faced the likes of Fiddlerontheroof and the former Betfair Hurdle winner Pic D'orhy in the Grade 2 Noel Novices' Chase at Ascot in December. Taking time for his jumping to warm up, Allart excelled in the second half of the race and cruised clear of his classy rivals in the closing stages to launch himself on to the novice chasing scene. Sent off an odds-on favourite for a Haydock Grade 2 next time out, Allart's jumping faltered and he crashed out in the early stages of the race. So, Henderson will need to improve his jumping for the stiff test of Prestbury Park, but he's all class and has to be a player, if producing a clear round.

With Shishkin dominating the Arkle betting for the Seven Barrows team then this appears to be Allart's only Cheltenham Festival option, as three miles seems too far, so with notable potential over fences then the 16/1 with some firms looks a stunning each-way bet against the favourite.

Cheltenham Festival Races

Another potential Henderson duo lining up are Fusil Raffles and Chantry House and they clashed at Cheltenham in December, with the former coming out on top comfortably. Pulled up over two miles the run before that, Fusil Raffles could excel over the 2m 4f, but has found life tough at the highest level - as shown when he was down the field in the Champion Hurdle - last season. A winner at Ascot on his chasing debut, Chantry House is still very lightly-raced as a horse, so is open to more improvement and could make more appeal of the Seven Barrows pair.

Runaway Caspian Caviar Gold Cup winner Chatham Street Lad could well return to the venue where his biggest career success came at to date, and the Mick Winters-trained star would be a fascinating addition. Excelling in that handicap contest, he failed to follow up next time out, and it maybe that he just lacks the class at Grade 1 level, and he will struggle. Andy Dufresne was no match for Monkfish in the Flogas Novice Chase last time out, so Gordon Elliott could drop him in trip for this test, and he has some classy form on his CV, while the likes of Franco De Port and Protektorat are both decent performers on their day, but this race will all be about Envoi Allen, who will be a red-hot jolly favourite. But, at odds-on he makes no appeal with five weeks to go until the Cheltenham Festival, so take a chance on Allart to excel for the Henderson team, and he is the each-way selection.

Selections

Marsh Novices' Chase, Cheltenham Festival, Thursday 18th March - back Allart at 16/1 (bet365)

Marsh Novices' Chase
Allart silk

Allart (EW)

Cheltenham Festival Tips
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