Close Brothers Novices PreviewThis Novices Handicap Chase was introduced into the Festival in 2011 replacing the old Jewson Novices Handicap and also switching to the first day of the Festival.
The handicap is limited to horses rated under 140 and with so many entries, most runners will be rated within a few lbs of this, making for a very compressed handicap.
This makes it very hard for a trainer to campaign a horse for this race specifically.
2013 winner Rajdhani express won this off a mark of 140 and then went on to run third in the Ryanair the following year, progressing to a handicap rating as high as 160.
2015 winner Irish Cavalier won this off a mark of 137 and went on to race off a mark as high as 156.
So you are looking for a horse likely to progress to be running at the highest levels in the future.
Close Brothers Novices Handicap Chase TrendsThe last 10 years trends analysis will of course include stats prior to the changes in the conditions of the race. We should remain aware that the new race is raced on a different part of the Cheltenham course and as such is over a slightly shorter distance of two and a half miles as opposed to 2m 5f.
The handicap ceiling has also moved down to a maximum of an official rating of 140 (although Hunt Ball managed to exploit the Rules in 2012 to run off 142!) so be aware of that when making your selections as up to 2010 there was no upper ceiling and this may change the viability of the existing trends.
Thanks to Micko for the below trends which can be read in more detail on his blog.
|10/10||were rated 132 or higher|
|9/10||finished either first or second on their last outing|
|10/10||had their last run that year|
|10/10||had run at least 3 times since 1st November|
|9/10||finished in the first 3 on their last completed start|
|8/10||were aged six or seven|
|8/10||carried 11-07 or less|
|8/10||had won a race since 1st November|
Close Brothers Novices Handicap Chase Last Ten WinnersTable below shows the last ten winners of the race, their age/weight at the time of winning, trainer, jockey and odds (starting price).
|2016||Ballyalton||9-11-10||I Williams||B Hughes||12/1|
|2015||Irish Cavlier||6-11-7||R Curtis||P Townend||11/1|
|2014||Present View||6-11-7||J Snowden||B Powell||8/1|
|2013||Rajdhani Express||6-11-7||N Henderson||Mr S Waley-Cohen||16/1|
|2012||Hunt Ball||7-12-0||Keiran Burke||N Schofield||13/2F|
|2011||Divers||7-11-4||F Murphy||G Lee||10/1|
|2010||Copper Bleu||8-11-0||P Hobbs||R Johnson||12/1|
|2009||Chapoturgeon||5-10-11||P Nicholls||T Murphy||8/1|
|2008||Finger On The Pulse||7-10-12||T Taaffe||B Geraghty||9/1|
|2007||LAntartique||7-10-11||F Murphy||G Lee||20/1|
Close Brothers Novices Handicap Chase PreviewThis race will always have a very tight look to it now that the race conditions have changed and the whole field are likely to be very closely matched with little weight difference.
One of the old trends where we were looking for a horse with less than eleven stone has definitely gone out the window as every horse in the last four years has carried more than that amount.
OLBG forum moderator Nors is concentrating his form study on the handicap races and comments
" I went thru this race last night and thought Nicholls with Katgary and Orbasa were interesting. Ballyboley to place from NTD and Warren Greatrex runners to place, which is likely to be Aloonomo. Of course it all depends on who gets in the race but i found this race fascinating. Buckthorn Timothy was another who featured well in my deliberations and glad to see it passes some of the trends. "
It is worth noting that the horse with the highest rating has won this race for two of the last three years.