RSA runner-up Monalee heads a host of stars in Champion Novice Chase

Growise Champion Novice Chase (Grade 1) | 3m½f | 5yo+ | RTE2/ ATR

Like most staying chases in Ireland Gigginstown have a fantastic record in this race. Since winning with Quito De La Roque in 2011 they have followed up with Sir Des Champs [2012], Valseur Lido [2015] and Disko, who struck last year.

The maroon and white colours of the champion owners in Ireland will be carried by Shattered Love, Dounikos and Monbeg Notorious, who are all trained by Gordon Elliott.

The 40-year-old trainer, hell bent on securing his first championship this week, said of the Gigginstown trio: "Dounikos disappointed on his last two starts but he seems fine and we decided to let him take his chance.

"The ground drying out won't be ideal for Monbeg Notorious, while Shattered Love has done little wrong this season. We know she gets the trip and the mares' allowance will help."

Jury Duty, who unseated in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham when last seen, and The Storyteller, who won the Brown Advisory before finishing fifth in the Ryanair Gold Cup, complete Elliott's team.

He added: "Jury Duty appeared not to be getting home when he unseated in the four-miler at Cheltenham and this trip will suit him better, while The Storyteller, who disappointed last time, seems in good order for his first attempt at the trip."

Willie Mullins knows what it takes to win this staying novice chase, having sent out three of the past eight winners in Kempes [2010], Sir Des Champs and Valseur Lido.

Al Boum Photo, a good winner of the Grade 1 Ryanair Gold Cup over 2m4f at Fairyhouse this month, spearheads the Mullins team, which also features National Hunt Chase winner Rathvinden and Invitation Only.

Henry de Bromhead will be bidding to get on the scoresheet with Monalee, who boasts the best form having finished a good second in the RSA Chase behind Presenting Percy.

Monalee also dished out a beating to many of these rivals in the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival, with Al Boum Photo, Invitation Only, Dounikos, The Storyteller all in behind, while Rathvinden unseated.

De Bromhead said: "Monalee has seemed very well since Cheltenham so we’ll see how we go."

Colin Tizzard enjoyed a memorable 2017 Punchestown festival, sending out three winners during the week.

He will be trying to match or better that this year and looks to have good prospects of getting in on the action with Finian's Oscar, winner of a Grade 1 over 2m4f at Aintree last time.

Tizzard said: "He won well at Aintree. You’re only a novice once and next year he’ll be in the big-field handicaps so we thought we’d have a go.

"You would think three miles would suit him. He’s only tried it once, over hurdles, but he wasn’t right that day and we did his wind afterwards.

"We think three miles over fences is his optimum trip, but we’re still learning. It’s lovely to go to Punchestown and hopefully we can bring back some money."

Denis Hogan admits he did a double take when he saw that his rapidly improving mare Youcantcallherthat was chalked up at 50-1.

Having beaten mares in a Grade 3 at Fairyhouse last week and in a Grade 2 at Limerick the time before, Hogan is looking forward to pitching her in at the deep end.

He said: "It’s going to be very tough with Colin Tizzard coming over and with Willie and Gordon throwing everything at it, but our mare has come out of Fairyhouse in great form and I just couldn’t be happier with her.

"Even though I know it’s going to be tough I was a bit surprised to see her priced up at 50-1."