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Novices' Handicap Chase 2020 Racecard

The Novices’ Handicap Chase is one of the more recent additions to the Cheltenham Festival, with the race first run in 2005.

4:50

Tuesday 10 March

Distance: 20f 44y Age: 5yo + Prize: £70000 Going: Soft (Heavy in places)

FORM
ENTRY
SILK HORSE
JOCKEY & TRAINER
AGE
WGT
ODDS

1
jockey silks 1. PRECIOUS CARGO (IRE)
J: Nico de Boinville
T: Nicky Henderson
7
11-7
Made up into a useful 2m hurdler last season and scored on chasing debut (after another wind op) at Haydock. Good placed efforts at Newbury and Warwick since but this step up in trip is a worry here.
33 stars

2
jockey silks 2. HOLD THE NOTE (IRE)
J: Jonathan Burke
T: Mick Channon
6
11-7
Progressive hurdler who has continued in same vein sent chasing, excellent second in 3m Grade 2 at Warwick last time when travelling strongly long way. Return to 20f will suit so worth a second look.
33 stars

3
jockey silks 3. ESPOIR DE GUYE (FR)
J: Charlie Deutsch
T: Venetia Williams
6
11-6
Ex-French winner who has made rapid progress in three runs over fences for his new yard, easily landing Ascot handicap in the mud in December. Hiked 14 lb but still interesting contender.
44 stars

4
jockey silks 4. TORPILLO (FR)
J: Daryl Jacob
T: Nigel Twiston-Davies
5
11-6
Four-time winner for this yard and he got his chasing career off to perfect start in Warwick novice. Well below that level up in grade since though at Sandown and Warwick so big step forward needed.
22 stars

5
jockey silks 5. KNIGHT IN DUBAI (IRE)
J: Conor Shoemark
T: Dan Skelton
7
11-5
Quickly matched his useful hurdling form with wide-margin chase wins at Bangor and Doncaster before good second in Grade 2 at Haydock. Sound jumper who is one for the shortlist.
33 stars

6
jockey silks 6. JARVEYS PLATE (IRE)
J: Paddy Brennan
T: Fergal O'Brien
7
11-5
Very useful effort when landing 3-runner listed event on chase debut at Chepstow in October. Unable to reproduce that on all three runs since, only ninth in 20f handicap here latest. Needs to step up.
22 stars

7
jockey silks 7. CHAMPAGNE MYSTERY (IRE)
J: Jeremiah McGrath
T: Nicky Henderson
6
11-5
Made striking impression on chasing debut at Aintree with wide-margin win but has twice failed to build on it when second in small fields at Haydock and Fakenham. Good jumper who may still do better.
33 stars

8
jockey silks 8. IMPERIAL AURA (IRE)
J: David Bass
T: Kim Bailey
7
11-5
Low-mileage 7-y-o who has made most encouraging start chasing with Fakenham win before twice finishing an excellent runner-up here. Up 7 lb for latest in strong 20.6f handicap but still in the frame.
33 stars

9
jockey silks 9. CHAMPAGNE COURT (IRE)
J: Nick Scholfield
T: Jeremy Scott
7
11-5
Landed a gamble on chasing debut at Sandown and readily followed up at Plumpton. Fitted with tongue strap when only fair fifth in 20.6f handicap here last time so needs to step forward off same mark.
22 stars

10
jockey silks 10. GALVIN (IRE)
J: Davy Russell
T: Gordon Elliott, Ireland
6
11-4
Ballymore Hurdle sixth who has been brought along steadily over fences, running on late for second in 20f Punchestown chase in November. Sort to really step forward now handicapping so a major player.
55 stars

11
jockey silks 11. PAINT THE DREAM
J: Jack Tudor
T: Fergal O'Brien
6
11-2
Yet to win in four runs over fences, seeming to excel himself in the Dipper Chase here before quickly beaten after bad error at Ludlow last time. Lot more required here.
22 stars

12
jockey silks 12. HIGHEST SUN (FR)
J: Robbie Power
T: Colin Tizzard
6
11-2
Made promising start chasing and scored at Plumpton but he has failed to go on in two subsequent runs, beating only one in 3m Newbury handicap last time. Needs to bounce back in first-time tongue tie.
33 stars

13
jockey silks 13. MELLOW BEN (IRE)
J: Non Runner
T: Chris Gordon
7
11-2
Scored around 20f at Worcester and Fontwell last autumn but below par all three runs since, well held in Kempton handicap latest. Hard to make a case for. NON RUNNER.

14
jockey silks 14. EARLOFTHECOTSWOLDS (FR)
J: Sam Twiston-Davies
T: Nigel Twiston-Davies
6
11-1
Three-time winning hurdler last term who is improving with experience over fences, getting up late in Exeter novice in December. Capable of better if his jumping improves in first-time cheekpieces.
33 stars

15
jockey silks 15. BEAKSTOWN (IRE)
J: Harry Skelton
T: Dan Skelton
7
11-1
Grade 2 novice hurdle winner last season and very much a chaser on looks but he hasn't gone on since runner-up on fencing bow at Wetherby. Back after a break and cheekpieces are added to tongue tie.
33 stars

16
jockey silks 16. MITCHOUKA (FR)
J: D. J. McInerney
T: Gearoid O'Loughlin, Ireland
6
11-1
First run since leaving Gordon Elliott when landing 2m novice chase at Thurles before good third there on handicap debut. Up another 4 lb so another step forward is required.
33 stars

17
jockey silks 17. DALY TIGER (FR)
J: Sean Flanagan
T: Noel Meade, Ireland
7
11-1
Useful chaser who arrives on the back of two good efforts at Punchestown. Into handicaps now but has plenty to find off a stiff-looking mark.
22 stars

18
jockey silks 18. LORD SCHNITZEL (IRE)
J: B. J. Cooper
T: Matthew J. Smith, Ireland
7
11-1
Capable of useful form but well held on his last two starts, fading tenth over 25f at Gowran last time. Drop back in trip should suit but has a fair bit to find.
22 stars

19
jockey silks 19. DE PLOTTING SHED (IRE)
J: Tom Scudamore
T: Suzi Best
10
11-1
Capable of useful form and has twice scored for new yard this term at Newton Abbot and Plumpton. Untrustworthy overall though so others make lot more appeal.
22 stars

20
jockey silks 20. TRAINWRECK (IRE)
J: Rachael Blackmore
T: Henry de Bromhead, Ireland
8
11-1
Useful winning hurdler who has yet to score over fences but he posted much-improved second in 21f Leopardstown handicap last time. Yard took this contest 12 months ago so he's highly respected.
33 stars

21
jockey silks 21. WHATMORE
J: Tom O'Brien
T: Henry Daly
8
11-0
Made a winning start over fences at Market Rasen last May. Better form in defeat since, fourth in Kempton handicap last time. Keen-going sort who may do better still back at 20f so he's shortlisted.
33 stars

Analyst's Verdict

Ballymore Hurdle sixth GALVIN has been brought along very steadily over fences and after an eye-catching second at Punchestown, he looks primed to open his account now going into handicaps for his top yard. Espoir de Guye will be suited by conditions so is sure to make a bold bid for his hat-trick, while Earlofthecotswolds, Imperial Aura and Trainwreck are also worth considering in an open race.

A listed National Hunt steeplechase which is open to horses aged five years or older, the Novices’ Handicap Chase is run on the Old Course over a distance of about 2 miles and four and a half furlongs (2 miles, 4 furlongs and 78 yards), and during its running there are sixteen fences to be jumped.

The Novices' Handicap Chase is a handicap race for novice chasers – those horses that haven’t run a race over fences before that season - with a handicap rating between 0 and 145 (this used to be limited to horses with a maximum official rating of 140, but was changed in 2017).

The race was formerly run on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival, before being moved in 2011, when it was known as the Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase to commemorate the centenary of the Cheltenham Festival.

In terms of Timeform ratings, the Novices’ Handicap Chase is often won by a useful performance on Timeform’s scale, but the best winning effort came from Reveillez who beat Copsale Lad in the 2006 renewal.

Reveillez was the only win in the Novices’ Handicap Chase for AP McCoy , and it’s also the only win that owner JP McManus has enjoyed, though he has had three horses finish in the top three places since 2006.

One of those was Bob Hall, who chased home L’Antartique in 2007, the latter one of two wins in the Novices’ Handicap Chase for trainer Ferdy Murphy and jockey Graham Lee.

Their other win came with Divers in 2011, who, incidentally, also beat another McManus-owned horse in the form of Quantititaveeasing .

Ferdy Murphy is alone as the most successful Novices’ Handicap Chase trainer, but Graham Lee shares the title of most successful Novices’ Handicap Chase jockey with Brian Hughes.

The northern-based jockey guided the Ian Williams-trained Ballyalton to success in 2016, the horse’s best performance since chasing home Faugheen in the Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival, and he also piloted the Mick Channon -trained winner Mister Whitaker in the 2018 renewal of the Novices’ Handicap Chase. The 2019 renewal was won in emphatic fashion by A Plus Tard, who provided Rachael Blackmore with a first Festival winner; his high-class performance was easily the best in the race’s history, and suggested he'd have been a major player in any of the Grade 1 novice events.

The winning ride by Mattie Batchelor in the inaugural Novices’ Handicap Chase won the Lester Award for ‘Jump Ride of the Year’.

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Novices' Handicap Chase 2020 FAQs

What is the distance of the Novices' Handicap Chase?

2 miles, 4 furlongs and 78 yards.

How many obstacles are jumped in the Novices' Handicap Chase?

16

What day of the festival is the Novices' Handicap Chase?

Day 1

What time is the Novices' Handicap Chase?

16:50

What weights are carried for the Novices' Handicap Chase?

As it is a traditional National Hunt handicap steeplechase, weights range from 11 st 12 lb for the top weight, to 10 st for the bottom weight.

What is the purse for the Novices' Handicap Chase?

£70,000 (2020)

Who is the leading jockey in the Novices' Handicap Chase?

Graham Lee and Brian Hughes

Who is the leading trainer in the Novices' Handicap Chase?

Ferdy Murphy

Who won the Novices' Handicap Chase?

You can check out our Novices' Handicap Chase results page here to see a list of previous winners.

Where can I compare the odds for the Novices' Handicap Chase?

Click the link to visit our Novices' Handicap Chase Odds Comparison page.

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