Leopardstown Wednesday Preview – Neville Hotels Novice Chase

Monkfish was an impressive winner of last year's Neville Hotels Novice Chase.Monkfish was an impressive winner of last year's Neville Hotels Novice Chase.

Analysis of the Neville Hotels Novice Chase

The first three-mile Grade 1 for novice chasers in Ireland this season, the Neville Hotels Novice Chase has often been a very good pointer to winners at the big festivals. All eight runners are analysed below along side Racing Tips’ big race selection.


Ashdale Bob

After an exciting novice hurdling campaign which featured two Grade 2 victories and a Grade 1 runner-up spot, ASHDALE BOB was given an extremely tough assignment against Bob Olinger on his chasing debut.

He would have filled one of the two places behind Henry de Bromhead’s star but for unseating at the second last and he was a respectable third behind Farouk D’alene on his second jumps start. With that horse finishing second in Grade 1 company on Boxing Day, that form has been franked.

However, he has been a little below his best hurdles form and three miles is not guaranteed to suit. He is passed over for now.


Bacardys

Although some among his staff thought him mad, Willie Mullins has given BACARDYS another shot at fences at the age of ten.

That is despite his first attempt at novice chasing in the 2018/19 season showing him up to be a far from fluent fencer. He was much improved behind Bob Olinger on debut, in the race in which Ashdale Bob fell, but still wasn’t foot perfect.

Nevertheless, he still pulled ten lengths clear of the third that day and that horse was Master McShee, who won the Grade 1 Faugheen Novices Chase at Limerick. As such, talent alone could see Bacardys feature strongly here.


Fury Road

Third in Monkfish’s Albert Bartlett at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, FURY ROAD’s season tailed off markedly towards the end in 2021.

He went off at just 4/1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle, but never travelled for Jack Kennedy, but perhaps autumn is his time of year. He was only second to Gabynako on chase debut, but looked like he had come to win the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase at the last.

He was then overhauled late on by Beacon Edge and Gabynako did not frank their form in the Faugheen Novice Chase. More is probably needed at this stage.


Max Flamingo

Three winless runs over fences do not necessarily tell the whole story of MAX FLAMINGO so far.

His first effort at Listowel was disappointing, but he stepped forward markedly in two starts since. His third to Gabynako at Fairyhouse is very solid form, though he was no match for Lieutenant Command at the end of November.

Both of those winners have fallen short at the top level since, so this looks a tough ask for Max Flamingo.


Henry de Bromhead will hope Mr Incredible can bounce back on home turf.

Henry de Bromhead will hope Mr Incredible can bounce back on home turf.

Mr Incredible

He might never be able to live up to his name, but MR INCREDIBLE is yet to be out of the first two in his five rules starts.

Henry de Bromhead’s five-year-old was an impressive winner on his chase debut, but was then smashed by Ahoy Senor when venturing over to Newbury. A 31-length deficit owed slightly to Mr Incredible’s shaky jumping.

If he is hesitant at his fences again, he would be in trouble, but Ahoy Senor is a very good horse and so back on home turf, there is a chance he’ll run a much better race.


Ontheropes

Third season novices are usually back numbers, but there have been extenuating circumstances for ONTHEROPES so far in his career.

He was relatively uncompetitive in four starts in the 2019/20 season, but was far better when second to Monkfish in November last year. However, that was his only run of that season.

This term, he reappeared with a cosy victory, his first, in the Munster National off a mark of 141, which was certainly impressive. Due to his profile, he was a short price for the Ladbrokes Trophy too and though he was nowhere near the principles, he still stayed on for fourth albeit well beaten.

He is not a forlorn hope back against less experienced horses, though it would probably be a poor reflection of the rest of the field if he were to win.


Run Wild Fred

Finishing second is an uncomfortable habit, but RUN WILD FRED broke a sequence of next bests by winning on the bridle in a competitive handicap at Navan last month.

Though relatively versatile in terms of ground, his best efforts have come away from anything heavy, including when second in the Irish National last season. Eventually, he was destined to win.

That handicap victory was extremely impressive, but he has fallen short on a number of occasions in novice company which would make him uncomfortable to back. Nevertheless, he has probably improved and this might not be the deepest race.


Vanillier

Last year’s Albert Bartlett winner looks like he will stay all day and that might be exactly what is required here.

VANILLIER was a respectable third on his chasing debut over a trip short of ideal, but he improved for more of a stamina test in a Grade 2 on his second start, having the race in his hands even when his closest pursuer fell at the last.

He was not always the most consistent last season and looks like he will benefit more from a sounder surface, but he has won on soft. He should take high order over fences eventually, but there would be a slight concern about whether he will definitely turn up.


Big Race Verdict

None of these can be confidently recommended. Because there are doubts surrounding most of the principles, it might be worth taking a chance on the grandpa of the field in BACARDYS. He was the only horse to give Bob Olinger a race on their chase debut and the third from that race won a Grade 1 on Boxing Day. Whether that is reliable form is up for debate, but he clearly retains a lot of his considerable ability and did jump slightly better on return. Run Wild Fred and Vanillier are capable of high levels of form, but anything softer than yielding would be a slight concern.