Last year’s race
- Winner: Yorkhill
- Jockey: R Walsh
- Trainer: W P Mullins
- Owner: Andrea & Graham Wylie
- Age: 7 Weight: 11st 4lb
- Starting Price: 6/4f
- Season Form Figures: 11
- Previous Best: 1st - Neptune Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1), Cheltenham Festival (March 2016)
This will be the fifth running since its upgrade to Grade 1 status and the eighth all told. The first two years were dominated by horses to run well at the Festival before and Vautour and Yorkhill were recording their second Festival victory when successful here in the last three years. The last five winners had won a pattern race over hurdles.
Considering the Ryanair Novice Chase (Grade 1) at the Fairyhouse Easter Meeting over the same distance is just around the corner in their own backyard and some of their better novices are held back for that, for the Irish to win six of the first seven runnings of the JLT is a notable achievement. They even posted a 1-2-3 in 2015. Willie Mullins has won four of those with Sir Des Champs, Vautour, Black Hercules and Yorkhill.
The only British-trained winner, Taquin Du Seuil, ran in two novice chases at Cheltenham earlier in the season winning at The November Meeting and then finishing second in the Dipper, a race which Yanworth beat Sizing Tennessee and Willoughby Court. In fact, the highest British-trained finisher for four of the six runnings of the JLT had won a chase at Cheltenham earlier in the campaign.
Of the seven JLT winners so far, five won their immediate prep race. Of the pair beaten on their previous start, Noble Prince was only defeated by a short-head and Black Hercules fell at the final fence when leading and in command. If we stretch back to the 1989 Festival and concentrate on the now-four novice chases run up to three miles (the National Hunt Chase over four miles is more of a stamina test which I believe is an advantage to older, more-experienced novices). There has been no winning novice over the age of eight.
At a glance summary
- Irish-trained (notably Willie Mullins)
- Ran well at last season’s Cheltenham Festival
- Pattern-race winner over hurdles
- Grade 1 novice chase form
- Won at Cheltenham this season
- Failed to finish in the first two last time out
- Aged 9+