The National Hunt Novices’ Chase closes the curtain on what will have been an epic first afternoon of action from the Cheltenham Festival.
Organisers have toyed about with the distance for this race over the last few years and as only four of last year’s eighteen participants finished, they decided to shorten the trip.
Twenty-three fences will have to be jumped in a race that usually takes in and around eight minutes to complete.
There will be no amateur jockeys riding due to the ongoing pandemic so riding arrangements for the runners will be of particular interest.
Jonjo O’Neill and Willie Mullins are trainers to look out for in this race having amassed seven victories between them.
Alan King is another trainer to have also won the race twice.
The Irish have dominated this race in recent years and it often pays to avoid Paul Nicholls and David Pipe runners in this race as despite twenty-five attempts between them neither has ever won this race.
Previous Winners of the National Hunt Novices’ Chase
Runners To Watch
Below are selected runners who hold entries for the National Hunt Novices’ Chase 2021.
Karl Hedley provides some recent form notes to help point you in the right direction of identifying the winner.
Galvin – Ian Ferguson
Galvin has continued to go from strength to strength this season.
He has been sent off as favourite in each of his last four runs over fences and he has justified that each and every time.
The most recent of those wins came at this track where he won a novices’ chase by seven lengths.
Believed to be a dour stayer by connections, he also holds an entry for the Irish Grand National in April.
Despite having not raced since, he has won fresh in the past and if handling this sharp step up in trip, he may well prove the one to beat.
Royal Pagaille – Venetia Williams
Royal Pagaille comes here in search of a four timer having won the Peter Marsh Chase with the minimum of fuss.
He has revelled in the mud this year and has certainly improved from being the timid six-year-old that we witnessed last season.
It could be that he just took time to adjust to life in England having moved from France where he was trained by Francois Nicolle.
If the ground were to stay on the soft side, he would certainly have claims.
The further they went that last day, the better he looked and he has to be of interest here.
Escaria Ten – Denise Foster
This seven-year-old who comes here looking quite unexposed.
He has only had a handful of rides the latest of which came at Naas in January when second to Eklat De Rire.
That was his first attempt at a graded race and he acquitted himself well going down only by a little under two lengths.
The front two pulled six lengths clear of the useful Pencilfulloflead.
A switch to fences and a step up to three miles seem to have brought this gelding into his own.
This extra half mile is not guaranteed to suit the seven-year-old and this looks to be very much a plan b option.
Snow Leopardess – Charlie Longsdon
Snow Leopardess is another who is untested over this stamina-sapping three and a half miles.
She is as tough as they come though and if lining up here there is no doubt she will give it her all.
As a mare she would enjoy a nice weight concession from the boys which always comes in handy.
She was placed in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby back in December behind Canelo and would have an each-way squeak if she stayed.
Nestor Park – Ben Pauling
Nestor Park comes here trying to win his first chase from what will be his seventh attempt.
He looks a stayer for sure but whether he is quite up to this level is anyone’s guess.
Has already been to this track three times previously and has never been in any danger of troubling the judge.
He will have his day in the sun eventually, but unfortunately it is unlikely to be in this race.
Lord Royal – Willie Mullins
Lord Royal has yet to get off the mark for the season but came closest when beaten under a length by Mr Hendricks at Navan in January.
He is beginning to look exposed at this level right now and perhaps handicaps would be more to his liking.
He has shown a tendency to make the odd mistake and this is not a racecourse where you want to be doing that.
Others look to hold much stronger claims.
Ticks The Right Boxes?
2021 National Hunt Novices’ Chase Tips
Royal Pagaille looks most likely to come here and he is a rapidly improving individual. However, he has now been pegged for the Gold Cup.
Although he has no previous form around the track, he is considered a live Gold Cup contender of the future and he will need to win this in order for those dreams to become a reality.
Galvin hasn’t been seen since October the horse will have to be at the very top of his game against already race-fit rivals.
Odds With Paddy Power – correct at time of publication
- 5/2 Next Destination
- 10/3 Galvin
- 9/2 Escaria Ten
- 7/1 Lord Royal
- 16/1 Snow Leopardess
- 28/1 Nestor Park
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