The Novices’ Handicap Chase is a deeply competitive affair, one of the most open on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival, and the market regularly chops and changes throughout the season. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled on horseracing.net for expert views and analysis on the 2020 Novices’ Handicap Chase as the picture becomes clearer.
The latest odds for the Novices Handicap Chase will be listed below just as soon as they become available.
Centenary Novice's Chase Tips
Tips for the 2020 Novices’ Handicap Chase will appear here.
What is the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase?
The Novices’ Handicap Chase is a listed handicap chase for novice chasers, over just over two and a half miles (two miles, four furlongs and 44 yards). The race is traditionally held as the penultimate race on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival, Champion Day, held on a Tuesday, and regularly sees punters land a gamble. The race is currently sponsored by Close Brothers Group, who have backed it since 2016.
The history of the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase
The Novices’ Handicap Chase was one of four races that were introduced to the Cheltenham Festival in 2005, as part of the switch from three days to four. The race is a handicap for novices rated between 0-145, and has produced several smart performers, including the 2012 winner, Hunt Ball. The inaugural running in 2005 was won by the Mark Bradstock-trained King Harald, with his jockey Mattie Batchelor subsequently winning a Lester award for Jumps ride of the year. The only trainer to win this race on more than one occasion is Ferdy Murphy, who struck in 2007 with L’Antartique and in 2011 with Divers.
What happened in the 2019 Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase?
Punters came into the 2019 renewal of the Close Brothers after a mixed day, with short-priced favourites suffering defeat in both the Champion Hurdle (Apple’s Jade) and the Mares’ Hurdle (Benie Des Dieux), though they never looked in danger of failing to land a touch here. A Plus Tard was sent off a strong 5/1 favourite for the 20-runner contest off an opening handicap mark of 143, and he took the field apart, scoring by 16 lengths and leaving connections wondering if they should have targeted one of the Grade 1 novice chases at the Festival instead!
Who is the most iconic winner of the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase?
There’s no more iconic a winner of the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase than the hugely-popular Hunt Ball, who capped off a remarkable season when winning this in 2012. Having joined the Keiran Burke yard in the autumn of 2011 off a basement chase mark of 69, Hunt Ball quickly hit the ground running, winning six of his first seven starts for the yard, improving a scarcely believable 73 lb in that time and landing several gambles in the process. As a result, Hunt Ball took his chance in the Close Brothers off a mark of 142, and picked up win number seven in great style, storming up the hill to win by eight lengths, and set himself out as a potential Gold Cup performer. Hunt Ball would find life tougher the following season, but he landed another big gamble at Taunton in April 2013, before being sold to America by his controversial owner, Anthony Knott. Hunt Ball would return to Britain a year later with new owners and under the care of Nicky Henderson, but he never quite recaptured the heights of his extraordinary 2011-12 season.
Are there any trials for the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase?
The fact that the Close Brothers’ Handicap Chase is open to horses rated between 0-145 means that runners can arrive here with differing profiles and from all angles - making it difficult to pin down certain races of interest. However, competitive novice chases such as the Timeform-sponsored Novices’ Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on Trials Day in January are races to note - with Mister Whitaker winning that particular event en route to winning the Close Brothers in 2017.
Who is the most successful jockey in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase?
The joint-most successful jockeys in the history of the Novices’ Handicap Chase are Graham Lee and Brian Hughes, with two winners each. Graham Lee’s two wins in the race came with L’Antartique in 2007 and Divers in 2011, while Brian Hughes has won the Novices’ Handicap Chase with Ballyalton in 2016 and Mister Whitaker in 2018.
Who is the most successful trainer in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase?
The most successful trainer in the history of the Novices’ Handicap Chase is Ferdy Murphy, who has won the race on two occasions - with L’Antartique in 2007 and Divers in 2011.