Over three miles the Festival Novices’ Chase is a gruelling test for a novice chaser. With 20 fences jumping accuracy is a must and those involved at the finish are likely to have a say in 2022’s major chase races.
Previously known as the RSA Chase, the Festival Novices’ is essentially the Gold Cup for novice chasers and plenty of future stars have cut their teeth in this before achieving greater things.
2012 winner Bobs Worth and 2013 victor Lord Windermere both went onto win the Cheltenham Gold Cup the following season. Other winners include Denman and King George winner Might Bite.
|When:||Wednesday 16th March, 1.55pm|
|Distance:||Three-miles & half a furlong|
|Race Type||Grade 1 Novice Chase|
|Weights:||11st 2lb (5yo), 11st 4lb (6yo+), 7lb allowance for mares|
|Where to watch?||ITV, Racing UK, Bookmaker Streams|
What Happened in 2021?
In 2021, despite a scare at the final fence, Paul Townend guided the heavy 1/4 favourite Monkfish to victory.
The leading fancies, according to the latest odds, are:
Galopin Des Champs – 7/4 with bet365*
Trainer – Willie Mullins | Jockey – Tbc | Age 4
Was turned into a completely different horse for a step up in trip when taking the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle at last year’s Festival in impressive style, before then destroying his opposition in the 3m novice hurdle at the Punchestown Festival when he had graded performers trailing in his wake. If he carries that form across to fences, then he will take a huge amount of beating.
Bravemansgame – 4/1 with Betfred*
Trainer – Paul Nicholls | Jockey – Harry Cobden | Age 6
Arguably the best British novice hurdler of last season, Bravemansgame has started his career over fences in perfectly style, with smooth wins from the front at Newton Abbot and Haydock in graduation chases. On both occasions he beat 150+ rated rivals into second and jumped with aplomb, and it looks like he’s a better chaser than a hurdler already.
Ahoy Senor – 10/1 with bet365*
Trainer – Lucinda Russell | Jockey – Tbc | Age 6
Provided a 66/1 shock when smashing Bravemansgame by seven lengths in the Sefton last season, looking like a transformed horse for a big step up in trip, and since then he’s confirmed that was not a fluke with a promising debut in the Colin Parker Chase.
The Festival Novices Chase – Key Race Stats
- The finishing positions of the last eleven favourites reads as follows: 5,4,4,(2,4),1,3,1,1,3,3,1
- As you can see the Festival Novices Chase betting odds market normally gets this race right and the favourite is generally on the scene most years.
- Seven-year-olds have the best records in this race – 8 of the last 11 winners were aged 7
- Recent winners to break that mould are few and far between, including Star De Mohaison (2006), six-year-old Don Poli (2015) and eight-year-olds Might Bite (2017) and Champ (2020).
- Ireland has a strong recent record as expected but it’s fairly even between them and Britain, with Nicky Henderson having won this three times in recent years.
Festival Novices Chase Betting: A race for horses at the top of the market, if not a favourites benefit – Don Poli, Might Bite, Presenting Percy and Monkfish have all landed the odds but there have been two 8/1 winners and also a 14/1 success.
Two of the last three winners (of competitive renewals, given that Monkfish was a 1/4 shot) were 4/1.
Previous Winners of the Festival Novices Chase
2021 – Monkfish
2020 – Champ
2019 – Topofthegame
2018 – Presenting Percy
2017 – Might Bite
2016 – Blacklion
2015 – Don Poli
2014 – O’Faolain’s Boy
2013 – Lord Windermere
2012 – Bob’s Worth
* Cheltenham betting odds correct at the time of writing