Novices Handicap Chase 2021 Racecard
The Novices’ Handicap Chase is one of the more recent additions to the Cheltenham Festival, with the race first run in 2005.
JOCKEY & TRAINER
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.
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’.