Leopardstown's Racing Post Novice Chase shapes as one of the most hotly-anticipated races of the Christmas period, and we think there is value beyond Mengli Khan.
Impressive Punchestown winner Mengli Khan heads the Racing Post Novice Chase betting at no bigger than 4/5, and is already 7/1 second favourite for the Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, behind British-trained Kalashnikov.
It would seem unwise to look further than Gigginstown House Stud's star, but he has only run once over fences and was not flawless over hurdles - a certain incident at last year's Leopardstown Christmas Festival springs to mind.
Is there any value in opposing odds-on favourite Mengli Khan? Or is the Racing Post Novice Chase betting a market to steer clear of? Let's look at Mengli Khan (4/5 Betway) first:
Gordon Elliott’s charge made up into a useful novice hurdler last season with an early Grade 1 win at Fairyhouse in December. He went on to be placed twice at the highest level at the spring festivals and was an impressive winner of his only chase start in November, winning by 10 lengths.
The form of that Punchestown chase could be working out better, with runner-up Forge Meadow a beaten favourite in a Grade 3 mares' event next time out and fancied Trainwreck falling three out when disputing second.
Mengli Khan’s hurdles form does sets the standard here, but it is far from being a on-horse race and I like the look of two others at towards the head of the Racing Post Novice Chase betting.
While held by Mengli Khan on their hurdles meeting at Fairyhouse in December last year, Le Richebourg (7/1 BetVictor) has already proven himself to be a better horse over fences.
In October he won a Grade 3 event over 2m4f at Tipperary (good) and in December he finished second to Delta Work in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse (2m4f, good).
Narrowly beaten by a tough rival at Fairyhouse, Le Richebourg may well have been coming to Leopardstown as a Grade 1 winner over fences, but for being slightly hampered before jumping the final fence.
We’ll never know what affect that had on the overall result, but what we do know is that he is effective at this level and that the form of the Drinmore looks solid with a Grade 3 winner Cadmium among those finishing well-beaten.
With rain forecast, there’s a chance that the ground could soften, which could put a greater emphasis on stamina, which would suit Le Richebourg, who has shown improvement with each start over fences. There’s every chance that he will step up again on Wednesday.
>> Back Le Richebourg Each-Way at 7/1 with BetVictor
Voix Du Reve (4/1 BetVictor) is the most obvious bet against Mengli Khan in the Racing Post Novice Chase betting and he is our second tip in this prestigious Leopardstown Grade 1.
Trained by Willie Mullins, the six-year-old is unbeaten in two starts over fences, following up a beginners' success over 2m2f with a Grade 2 victory on good going at Punchestown last month.
The reason he isn't the best bet overall is two-fold. Voix De Reve has run well on heavy ground in the past, but is evidently a better performer on a sounder surface, and won't appreciate any rain, which is forecast.
A slight issue with regards to tactics may arise too as Voix Du Reve has made all the running in each of his four most recent victories, the same tactics employed by the favourite when winning on chase debut last time out.
Mengli Khan though had been ridden with more restraint prior to that it, so it seems likely that Voix Du Reve will be handed the lead this time, and the question then is, can he keep Mengli Khan at bay, or will he set it up for the odds-on favourite?
>> Back Voix De Reve Each-Way at 4/1 with BetVictor
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