Author: Darren Moore
Published: 13:10 16/03/2016
1.30pm Cheltenham (Thurs) - Garde La Victoire, 3pts win at 4/1 888Sport
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The highly fancied Bristol De Mai has eased a bit in the betting for the JLT Novices’ Chase in recent days, but the horse has done very little wrong in reality and has every chance. But he faces a really strong field this time and won’t be able to dictate affairs as he has been doing in recent runs.
This race could turn into a street fight and one horse who has the battling qualities required to impose his quality and will is the Philip Hobbs trained GARDE LA VICTOIRE, who has had a good novice chase campaign so far and can reward connections for the switch from the Arkle to this race by getting a win on the board in the 1.30pm Grade 1 contest.
He started off the season at Uttoxeter where he bumped into Bristol De Mai and had no trouble in seeing him off by seven lengths that day. Granted the runner up has improved a lot since, but there is no obvious evidence why Garde La Victoire won’t confirm that early piece of form on a level playing field. That was also over the minimum trip and while Bristol De Mai has appreciated the step up in distance since, Garde La Victoire is also best suited by twenty furlongs.
He went to Cheltenham next time out and beat Fox Norton, who finished third in the Arkle on Tuesday. Calipto and Dormello Mo are two useful sorts and they were well held in third and fourth place. Last time out at Ludlow, Garde La Victoire thrashed Doctor Harper who dotted up in a decent Leicester handicap next time out. All of the form indicators suggest that he has a huge chance to win the JLT. Willie Mullins horses are always respected and the Dan Skelton trained Three Musketeers is also a very good horse on his day, particularly with the ground coming good.
Philip Hobbs always tends to find one or two winners this week and Garde La Victoire is definitely among his best chances this year. The stable is in very good form this month coming into the Cheltenham Festival which is always a good sign and with Douvan being so imperious in the Arkle, it could prove the shrewdest of moves to have dodged that bullet in favour of this more realistic target over a trip he is sure to get well. The horse proved his effectiveness at Cheltenham which is an important asset and he ticks the boxes for a big run.