Cheltenham Tips

Turners Novices' Chase Preview: Potter the safe selection against Mullins might

Horse racing with Mighty Potter
Mighty Potter may be the best horse in the Turners

Mark Milligan previews the Turners Novices' Chase from an ante-post perspective and is siding with Gordon Elliott against the Mullins army...

  • In-depth look at some of the Turners contenders

  • Guessing game where Mullins stars are concerned

  • Mighty Potter may just be best horse in the race


Anyone for a game?

Let me introduce you to a game I've been playing all winter.

It's not a particularly fun or exciting game and there are few, if any, prizes to be won, but it's one that punters have been forced into playing virtually every week of the jumps season.

The game is 'Willie Mullins Bingo' and it revolves around attempting to guess which of the plethora of Closutton stars are going to turn up in which races.

Now, there's one man who could absolutely clean up in this game, but that man has no intention of joining in. That man is, of course, Willie Mullins himself.

The Turners Novices' Chase sums up perfectly the quandary of ante-post punters attempting to play WMB, as it shall henceforth be known.

None of this is meant as a slight on the Willie Mullins stable. It just serves to encompass the vast strength in depth of a yard that has truly become a behemoth in the National Hunt sphere.

Of the 41 entries for the Turners, 15 of them hail from Closutton, and plenty of the 15 have multiple entries across the Festival.

Of that 15, I'm going to focus on the few that are most prominent in the betting for the race, as this is probably the best guide we've got at this stage as to the trainer's intentions.

Will Appreciate it run here or in the Arkle?

Interestingly, it isn't a Mullins horse that's currently favourite for the race. That accolade falls to Gordon Elliott's Mighty Potter, but more of him later.

Appreciate It at 5/1 is the current second favourite on the Sportsbook and he is also around the same price for the Arkle on the opening day.

A high-class hurdler, and winner of the 2021 Supreme, Appreciate It has clearly had his share of problems since then and only made one appearance last season. That sole start was a disappointing Champion Hurdle effort, where he was well backed but ultimately could only finish seventh to Honeysuckle.

He's hardly put a foot wrong in two chase starts to date, toying with his opposition at long odd-on in both, winning by a combined 28 lengths.

His jumping has been sound and there is clearly plenty of improvement to come as he gains in experience.

But will he turn up in this race or the Arkle?

My guess at this stage would be the Arkle as he's made all but one of his starts under rules over 2m, though it is worth noting he was a winner of a maiden hurdle over 2m 4f.

James Du Berlais looks a likely runner

I'm not even going to attempt to get into where Sir Gerhard might run.

We've yet to see him this season and the scattergun approach to his current entries suggests connections haven't even made up their minds as to whether he embarks on a chasing career or stays over hurdles.

A safer option for preview purposes in this race is James Du Berlais, who is currently 7/1 on the Sportsbook.

Of all the Mullins entries that are prominent in the betting, this is the one who I suspect is most likely to end up in this race.

The owners have both him and El Fabiolo entered, but I'd suggest they'd want to keep them apart and the latter looks much more of an Arkle type to me.

James Du Berlais clearly hasn't been the easiest to train but he returned from a 612-day layoff to make mincemeat of his opposition on chasing debut at Fairyhouse on New Year's Day, coming home 15 lengths clear of Capilano Bridge.

Given his seeming fragility, the obvious question mark is whether James Du Berlais can string back-to-back races together, but he's undoubtedly a very bright prospect if he can be kept sound.

Mighty Potter a potential star

You've probably realised where I'm going with all this now. Basically, it's very difficult to recommend supporting any of the Mullins brigade ante-post without knowing (or even making an educated guess) as to what's going where.

There's also the slight issue that none of the Mullins horses may even be the most talented currently entered.

That accolade could well fall to Mighty Potter, who has looked something out of the ordinary in his two chase starts to date and is currently the highest rated novice chaser at Timeform.

The way Mighty Potter swatted away Gaillard Du Mesnil and Banbridge in the Grade 1 Drinmore at Fairyhouse last month was the performance of a young chaser who looks set to take high rank.

That performance was also a clear indication that the Turners is the most suitable option for him where the Festival is concerned.

The verdict

This boils down to a simple choice for ante-post punters. Either play it safe and go with the horse who has the best form in the race (and looks almost certain to turn up) or take a chance that you can get into the mind of Willie Mullins and have a stab at one his stars at a bigger price.

For me, I'm going to side with the safer option and suggest that Mighty Potter is the one to be with, particularly as he already boasts some of the strongest form-lines in the race anyway. Whichever way you decide to jump, good luck with your selections.

Back Mighty Potter to win the Turners Novices' Chase @

4.7

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