Cheltenham: Consistent Meade animal looks just the JLT type
Apache Stronghold was cut from 12/1 to 7/1 for the Cheltenham Festival JLT Novices’ Chase after victory in Leopardstown’s Grade 1 Flogas Novice Steeplechase.
In doing so he downed the Gigginstown House Stud’s Valseur Lido with a strong-staying showing under the patient tutelage of Paul Carberry.
It was revenge for his defeat at the hands of that rival at Punchestown earlier in the campaign and further reinforces the idea that he is at his best going left-handed.
Considering he had previously finished within four lengths of likely JLT rival Vautour in a Grade 1 novice hurdle at the same right-handed track, it was an encouraging development for his festival backers.
Prior to his most recent outing he had finished second to uber-tough stayer Don Poli over 3m at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting, the pair 8l clear of the third.
The ability to stay near enough 3m has often proved a great feather in the cap of those who compete in Cheltenham Festival events at the intermediate trip thanks to the course’s stamina-sapping undulations.
Last year’s JLT and Ryanair gold medallists are prime examples, with both Taquin De Seuil and Dynaste considered potential Gold Cup horses for much of this season.
Noel Meade’s chaser now has a Grade 1 2m5f novice chase win to add to strong staying credentials and an extremely dependable back catalogue.
Apache Stronghold’s most endearing trait is his consistency, a facet which, more than conspicuous class, has often typified JLT winners in the race’s short history.
Out of the first two in just one career run over obstacles, he has yet to fall or unseat his rider, while the loss to Don Poli over 3m is the only blot on his record when going anti-clockwise.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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