Marsh Novices' Chase Preview with Sam Lee

The Marsh Novices’ Chase looks a one-horse race on Day Three of the Cheltenham Festival, with odds-on favourite Envoi Allen looking hard to beat.

I spoke to upcoming amateur jockey Sam Lee about the race, and what he thinks the future holds for Gordon Elliott’s stable star.

Who do you think wins the Marsh Novices’ Chase?

“I think ENVOI ALLEN wins – that’s if he doesn’t choose to step up in trip again or even come down in trip. But, on most recent form, this looks like what he’s going to go for. He hasn’t run over anything different to 2m4f all year and he looks comfortable with the pace of a Grade 1, as you can see over in Ireland.

“He’s never even been beaten. I remember Davy Russell saying, ‘You always back a horse in form,’ and he has never been out of form!

“The most impressive run I thought was when he was at Punchestown last time when he really quickened coming into the straight and I thought ‘that is a nice, nice horse’. He jumps them like hurdles, he is a lovely, big, chasing sort. I can’t see him being beaten. I can’t help but fanboy over him.”

Are there any in the race that you do not fancy at all?

“He isn’t that short in the betting at the minute but I can’t have FUSIL RAFFLES. He seems to be running with easy company. There will be people saying that I am wrong here but I’ve never seen him run in a big race and handle it.”

Who do you fancy as an each-way bet? Who chases Envoi Allen home?

“I would like to see it be CHATHAM STREET LAD. I remember when we first saw him and they (bookmakers) opened him up at about 20/1 on the ante-post and I think he’s into 14s now. I like Mick Winters, I think he’s a bit of a character so I’d like to see his horse do well. 

“The ones that are higher up in the betting I don’t think will even turn up. Ideally, I’d love MONKFISH to turn up and take him on but that might come later in the year in Ireland, maybe at Punchestown, we might see them take each other on which would be exciting.

“ENERGUMENE I would say will go down in trip to the 2m for the Arkle.”

How do you see the race panning out? Most recently we’ve seen there to be a real lack of pace in Envoi Allen’s races and he has still won comfortably, will that be the case again here?

“It will be an enterprising gallop, there always is at The Festival. I can’t see it being a slow occasion at all, it’s very rare at Cheltenham unless the ground is really heavy and it just happens to run slow. It will be an end-to-end gallop.

“Envoi Allen is an uncomplicated horse. You’d sit him in third or fourth, get him jumping away and then just wait for the race to fall apart around him. I think it’s that simple for Davy really.”

Finally, what is the ceiling for Envoi Allen? Gordon Elliott has mentioned the Gold Cup as a target for him before, do you think he is capable of winning it in 2022?

“I would say he is a Gold Cup horse, he has to be. If that isn’t a Gold Cup horse then I don’t know what is. I think he would get the 3m and he has the gears for it. He won the Ballymore last year which is 2m5f, but you could argue that is as hard as 3m so I think he would get the 3m2f needed for the Gold Cup.

“We will have to see, he is still a novice. I’m glad they’re keeping him in the Novices as well. I don’t like it when they (trainers) get a rush of blood and move them from Novices straight into big races.”


Envoi Allen is best priced at 10/11 with Bet 365

Chatham Street Lad is best priced at 25/1 with Sky Bet

Envoi Allen is best priced at 10/1 with William Hill for the 2022 Gold Cup

by Charlie Parker-Turner