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National Hunt Novices' Chase Trends for the 2024 Cheltenham Festival

Jessica Lamb for Bookies.com

Jessica Lamb  | 12 mins

National Hunt Novices' Chase Trends for the 2024 Cheltenham Festival

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2024 National Hunt Novices' Chase Trends

The National Hunt Novices' Chase is a race that has changed significantly over the years. It's now often a pointer towards a future superstar, as opposed to being a slog that's won by a horse that goes on to be no more than a staying handicapper. Here are the National Hunt Novices' Chase trends to be aware of before betting at top horse racing betting sites.

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The last 10 winners:

  • Had run at least three times over fences*
  • Had run at least twice that season, and four times in the past 12 months
  • Had won a hurdle race
  • Had won no more than four chases, if any

* 2022 winner Stattler was the second horse since 1990 and the first since 1999 to win having had fewer than two runs over fences.

Nine of the last 10 winners:

  • Last ran at least 31 days ago (exception Minella Rocco, 24 days)
  • Did not run in a handicap last time out (exception Ravenhill in 2020)
  • Had run in a chase over at least 3m before - eight winning at least once (Le Breuil had not run over further than 2m7 1/2f)
  • Were ridden by a jockey based in Ireland (exception the Joshua Newman-ridden Midnight Prayer)

Eight of the last 10 winners:

  • Had won at least one chase (Cause Of Causes and Minella Rocco had not)
  • Had never won at Cheltenham before, but seven had run there previously (Tiger Roll and Galvin had won)

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Key Trials in the last 10 years

The are no standout trials for the National Hunt Novices' Chase, mainly due to it being such a long race at 3m6f. However, it pays to follow Grade 3 novices chases run over 2m4f-3m in January and February.

Look for horses in those races that did not win, but were placed or ran well. 2019 winner Le Breuil, for example, finished fourth in the Grade 2 Altcar Novices' Chase over 2m4f at Haydock, on his last run before Cheltenham Festival success, and Minella Rocco was second in the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot before his victory in 2016.

The 2022 winner Stattler won a 3m1f Grade 3 novice chase at Naas on his last run before Cheltenham. The third that day, Vanillier, filled the same position at Cheltenham. He had previously been third in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown, where Cheltenham second Run Wild Fred had been runner-up.

Four placed horses have come from the Grade 2 Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan, so that's one to keep a keen eye on and it's worth noting only four of the last 12 winners had previously won a Graded race, while only four of the last 10 winners won their last outing.

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Trainer Trends

  • Gordon Elliott is a master in this contest, winning the race four times since 2011. Interestingly, 2022 second Run Wild Fred was his first placed runner. Before that he’d never had a placed horse in the race, but he did have the second again in 2023.
  • Willie Mullins has saddled four winners and three placed horses from 18 runners in the past 11 years. He also rode two winners of the race when he was a jockey.
  • Jonjo O’Neill is the race’s winning-most trainer (six) but he’s only landed it once (Minella Rocco in 2016) since 2007.

Jockey Trends

This race is restricted to amateur riders and those based in Ireland have won 13 of the last 14 renewals, including the last nine. Patrick Mullins became the race’s winning-most rider when landing his fourth victory in 2023. In 2021, COVID-19 restrictions on travel by amateur sports people meant that amateur riders did not take part in the Cheltenham Festival.

How did the trends do last year?

There was no doubt that the top trends picks from the race’s two best stables were Grade 1 winners Galliard Du Mesnil and Chemical Energy, who finished first and second as the 10/11 favourite and an 8/1 shot.

Third Mister Coffey really did not fit the trends as he had mainly been campaigned in handicaps and had run a whopping seven times over fences without a win.

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Who Fits The Trends Best In 2024?

The profile of this race is changing with the reduction in distance and as such a classier novice chaser now tends to be the winner, with last year’s first two both being Grade 1 winners.

Embassy Gardens has all the hallmarks of a Willie Mullins National Hunt Chase winner, having won a 3m1f Grade 1 novices’ chase at Naas last timeout, to take his unbeaten run over fences to two. He’s clearly a strong stayer, and ticks all the trends boxes.

Stayers Hurdle winner Flooring Porter would be a very interesting runner if lining up, and Grade 1 winner Stay Away Fay looks to have a very good chance of giving Britain a long-awaited return to the winner’s enclosure.

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2023 National Hunt Novices' Chase Result

Position Name Price Trainer Jockey
1st Gaillard Du Mesnill 10/11f Willie Mullins Patrick Mullins
2nd Chemical Energy 8/1 Gordon Elliott Jamie Codd
3rd Mister Coffey 11/1 Nicky Henderson Derek O'Connor

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About the Author

Jessica Lamb is a multi-media journalist who specializes in horse racing, cycling and sports betting and has worked on desks at the Racing Post and Irish Sun newspapers.