• Northern Trust Novices Handicap Chase


    All winners had ran in a chase within the last 60 days.
    Only one of the last ten winners older than seven.
    15 of the 16 winners did not fall last time out.
    A headgear wearer placed in 11 of the last 12. No headgear on the last 4 winners.
    A horse wearing new headgear for the first time has been placed in 8 of the last eleven. None won.
    In 12 of the last 13, a maiden over fences has won three and gained a place in the other nine.
    12 of the last 13 three or four previous chase runs.
    Three of the last six winners had already competed in a Graded Chase. The other three finished in the first three in the Trials Day Nov H'cap.
    Both Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott have yet to win this.
    This century no Festival handicap has been won by three successive favs/jtfavs. The last two fav/jtfavs have won. Both BFs last time out.
    Only one conditional jockey has ever been placed in this.
    14 of the 16 winners finished 1st or 2nd last time out.


    There have been 16 of these novice handicap chases.


    Race Distance - 2 miles abt 4 furlongs. Usually 20 runners. In 2011 this took the place of the Jewson Novice H'cap chase but is slightly different in conditions. From 2018* onwards it became a 0-145 novice handicap as opposed to a 0-140. Top weight carries 11-7. Now usually a handicap in name only as each of the last six versions had no more than a 10lb weight range. Makes the ratings range 145 to 135. All bar three horses in total in the last three Grade 1 JLT Novice Chases (first race Thursday) were rated above 144. You tend to have to make your choice between Irish plots and English trained that have poor early chase form but now showing recent significant chasing improvement. Quite Interesting fact that in 2004 King Harald got £46k for winning the first of these. First prize 2020 a little less than £40k.



    Oppose those older than 7 unless previously finished in top 4 in previous Festival G1 Novice hurdle. Last run was in a chase within the last 60 days. Not worse than 3rd on last completed. If tried, has won over 2m 4f. Has won at Class 3 level. Not running under a penalty. Rated at least 137. Placed horse is either a course winner or ran well at a previous Festival. Maiden over fences to be placed. Apart from when running on this course, has finished in the first 4 in all completed starts over fences. Irish trained having recent success with bigger numbers. Having fallen in a chase is not in vogue. Something wearing a type of headgear for the first time can be placed but won't win. Don't be scared about backing a stable who have never had a Festival winner as only two have been won by Nicholls, Henderson, Elliott or Mullins. Check all those coming from the novice handicap chase held on course trials day in January or Graded run last time. Lay favourite. Not BF last time unless favourite here.


    Be advised. Imperial Aura will now be seen as the 2020/21 NH Season new Arkle in 2 and a half mile chases. Just because he wins a novice handicap chase. It doesn't happen.

  • Honours Board

    Year||| Form |||Winner||| Age||| Weight||| OR||| SP||| Trainer||| Jockey||| Last race (No of days)

    2020||| 3122||| Imperial Aura||| 7||| 11-5||| 143||| 4/1 JtF||| Kim Bailey||| D Bass||| 2nd CL2 Chelt Nov H'cap (47)

    2019 |||212||| A Plus Tard||| 5 |||11-5||| 144||| 5/1F |||H de Bromhead(IRE) |||R Blackmore||| 2nd G3 Pnchstwn Nov (58)

    2018*||| 3121 |||Mister Whitaker||| 6||| 11-2 |||137||| 13/2 |||M Channon||| B Hughes||| 1st Cl2 Chelt Nov H'cap (45)

    2017||| 162||| Tully East||| 7||| 11-8||| 138 |||8/1||| A Fleming(IRE) |||D O'Regan||| 2nd G3 Navan Flyingbolt Ch 2m 1f (23)

    2016 |||U62F||| Ballyalton |||9||| 11-10||| 140||| 12/1 |||I Williams||| B Hughes||| FELL G2 Ascot Reyneldstown 3m (24)

    2015||| 323||| Irish Cavalier||| 6||| 11-7 |||137 |||11/1 |||R Curtis||| P Townend||| 3rd Cl2 Chelt Nov H'cap (45)

    2014||| 32121 |||Present View||| 6 |||11-7 |||137||| 8/1||| J Snowden||| B Powell||| 1st CL3 Kemp H'cap Ch (17)

    2013||| 2F17||| Rajdhani Express||| 6||| 11-7||| 140||| 16/1 |||N Henderson |||Mr S Waley-Cohen(5) |||7th Cl2 Chelt Nov H'cap (45)

    2012||| 12111||| Hunt Ball||| 7||| 12-0 |||142 |||13/2F||| K Burke |||N Schofield||| 1st CL3 Kemp H'cap Ch (17)

    2011 |||31591||| Divers||| 7||| 11-4||| 132||| 10/1 |||F Murphy |||G Lee||| 1st M'burgh Nov Ch (37)




    ’06 had 6 previous Festival runners, 3 finished 1-2-3. ‘Performed well’ included Reveillez’s previous 4 length sixth to No Refuge in Sun Alliance Novice Hurdle.

    ’07 had Rasharrow, previous 3rd in Champion Bumper, finished fourth here.

    '08 Fleet Street previously 3rd in a Supreme Novice, finished fourth here at 66s.

    '09 although 1st and 2nd had run at previous festivals the theory didn't work. Straw Bear (2nd in a Supreme) did finish 5th despite his inability to jump fences.

    '10 winner Copper Bleu had been 4th in the 2009 Supreme Novice.

    '11 Quantitiveasing 2nd and Tullamore Dew 3rd had finished 5th and 2nd respectively in the 2010 Coral Cup.

    '12 Battle Group 4th (4th in 2011 Coral Cup)

    '13 Ackertac 2nd at 66s (5th to Hunt Ball in this race '12)

    '14 Attaglance 2nd 10s won Martin Pipe Hurdle in 2012

    '15 Thomas Crapper 2nd at 6/1 fav, previous 2nd to Don Poli in M Pipe Hurdle. 1st and 3rd came from Nov H'Cap Chase Trials Day.

    '16 Ballyalton previously 2nd to Faugheen in the Neptune. Bouvreuil 2nd in Fred Winter

    '17 Tully East had finished 4th in Martin Pipe '16. Only other qualifier from the 20 runners would have been Itsafreebee PU

    '18* Now a 0-145 h'cap. Mister Whitaker had won on Trials Day, Rather Be 9th in the Bumper '16, Barney Dwan 4th, had been 2nd to Presenting Percy in Pertemps

    '19 A Plus Tard never here before, Tower Bridge 2nd had finished 5th of 20 in 2018 Albert Bartlett

    '20 Imperial Aura 2nd on Trials Day, Galvin in 2nd best Festival from on show when rated 2lbs higher, 6th of 15 to City Island in Ballymore.


    Of the 16 winners, Ballyalton (9), Copper Bleu (8 yrs) only ones older than 7 yrs. A Plus Tard first five year old since Chapoturgeon 2008


    Every winner's last run was in a chase within the last 60 days. Imperial Aura 45, A Plus Tard 58, Mister Whitaker 45, Tully East 23, Ballyalton 25.


    PREVIOUS GRADED CHASE? Three of the last six, A Plus Tard, Tully East and Ballyalton had run in a Graded chase. A Plus Tard second in a G3, Tully East ran in G1 and G3 2 milers. It is suggested that, in the second of those, Denis O'Regan kept him as far behind as was humanely possible. Out of the back of the TV. Ballyalton fell in a Reynoldstown. To tidy things up, the three of the six who hadn't run in a graded chase, had finished in the first three of the Timeform Nov H'cap Chase on Trials day. No winner between 2010 and 2015 had run in a Graded Chase.


    10 of the 16 winners beaten in their first two chase starts. But none of the last four Not Imperial Aura, able to jog around Fakenham first time at 1/25. Not A Plus Tard, won his second chase, beating the Arkle winner. Not Tully East, won his beginners chase first time out and then hid in plain sight. Not Present View nor Mister Whitaker. Both won their second chase. Not really a stat anymore.


    The last 8 winners all rated at least 137. Last in last year off 138 so not much of a help. For years now it hasn't really been a handicap. A Plus Tard with 144 jogged around under 11st 7lb, bottom weight 11st 2lb. 2018 Mister Whitaker bottom weight off 137 again carrying 11st 2 lb. In 2017 the range was 5lb, 137 to 142. Apart from King Harald, the very first winner at 110, Mister Whitaker 118 and Finger On The Pulse at 147, all the rest rated between 124 and 142 over hurdles. A Plus Tard didn't run over hurdles in UK or Ireland.


    14 from 16 had finished in the first 2 last time. Not Ballyalton (F) nor Rajdhani Express. In Tully East's case, second meant last of two finishers, a long way behind.


    Ony six of the 16 winners had their last race in a handicap. And those six came from the last nine. Not A Plus Tard, Tully East nor Ballyalton. Two of the six were top weights.


    Only Tully East and Ballyalton of the last eight had run at a previous Festival. However as shown above, decent history of placed horses having been before. Present View never ran here before victory.


    11 of the 16 finished in the first four in all completed starts over fences. Not Tully, Ballyalton, Rajdhani nor Divers. The latter three surprisingly failed this stat in a Cheltenham chase.


    Only 1 from 10 runners under a penalty have paid a dividend. Some have to run and win within the last fortnight to get into this race. No qualifiers last four years.


    All 16 winners had won to Class 3 level in a chase or a hurdle. Tully East had won an 11k euro h'cap hurdle.


    10 from the 16 had won one from the previous two runs and 6 from last 12 won last time out. Proves little.


    14 from the 16 from the front five in the market. As a clerk, I would expect that. Though, the last two favourites have won and nothing bigger than 12s won any of the last six.


    6 of the 16 winners were giving their yard a first Festival winner. Or in Kim Bailey's case, the first for a while. Darna 33s 2015 Mildmay.


    13 of the 16 had already run over at least the race distance over fences. Not Tully East.


    Irish Cavalier, Copper Bleu and Chapoturgeon had never won over 2m 4f. Chapoturgeon had never run over the trip but had been a very easy chase winner last time and Copper Bleu had been a close second in a G2 Aintree novice hurdle over this trip. He had never run over 2m 4f over fences before. Irish Cavalier's last run was 3rd in the 2m 4f course nov hcap chase on Trials day. He had ran unplaced in an Aintree 2m G2 novice hurdle.


    The Nov H'cap chase on Cheltenham Trials Day at the end of January has produced Imperial Aura (and Simply The Betts), Mister Whitaker, Rhadjani Express and Irish Cavalier. Only Mister Whitaker won in January. This race, coincidentally, has also produced Un Temps Pour Tout and Singlefarmpayment. Neither of them won it either. Mister Whittaker won easy from Theatre Territory and Sizing Tennessee, the latter then finished third in the 4 miler. Spiritofthegames was 3rd in 2019, then finished 3rd to Siruh Du Lac in the Mildmay.


    N Henderson won with Rajdhani and has had four runners up, including Rather Be and Gold Present in the last four years. No luck with two in 2020. JP McManus won with Reveillez and has had three runners up and a third. Five other JP unplaced in last four years.


    10 from the 16 had only won once over fences. Four from the last ten had won at least twice but only Mister Whitaker of the last six. And he had to win to get into this.


    Ballyalton, Irish Cavalier and Finger On The Pulse had yet to win over fences. All three had been placed in their last completed run. 37 maiden chasers have run in the 16 races, six in 2020 best finishing 2-3-5. Tower Bridge 2nd was a beat placed maiden of three in 2019, Ibis De Rheu best of three in 5th 2018. A maiden had been placed in the previous 10 runnings of this including Two Taffs, third in 2017, Ballyalton, Irish Cavalier and Attaglance who was second in 2014.


    IRISH TRAINED - 56 have tried, 5 from 20 in 2020 only Galvin placed, 9 from 20 in 2019 resulting in a 1-2-3. Not so good in 2018, best Any Second Now in 8th from the six runners. Tully East in 2017 joined 2008 winner Finger On The Pulse. 7 others placed, Powersbomb 22s 4th in 2017, The Last Goodbye 5th 2018, 2016 Bridgets Pet 33s and 4th. Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott yet to train the winner from a total of 12 runners.


    Only two of these have been won by the big four, Mullins, Elliott, Nicholls or Henderson.


    6 of the 16 had fallen at least once over fences but only Ballyalton and Radjhani Express of the last nine. That's none of the last four. And Ballyalton the only one to fall last time out.


    JOCKEYS - 2017 Jamie Codd on Powersbomb joins Shane Shorthall (claiming 5lb) 4th on Bridgets Pet and Mr Sam Waley-Cohen (winner 2013) as being the only amateur or conditional jockeys to have ever finished in the first 4 in any of the 16 versions of this race. Perhaps Sam not as bad a jockey as some say? Seven amateurs/conditionals over the last four years. None in first five home.


    BLINKERS/CHEEKPIECES etc - 2020 Hold The Note 3rd in cheekpieces he always wore, Beakstown 5th in the first time 'final tragi-comedy' (Alaistair Down's fine description of cheekpieces). 2019 Tower Bridge 2nd in first time cheekpieces No qualifiers in 2018, quite suprisingly. There can be a lot of rogues in this. Ballyalton in cheekpieces, Irish Cavalier in first time cheekpieces, the first winners from the 56 to try. In 2017, 6 wore some type of headgear, best home was Two Taffs in first time cheekpieces and then Powersbomb in his usual hood. In 2016 10 of the 20 runners wore some sort of headgear. Bouvreuil hooded in second place. 2015 Generous Ransom 3rd in second time cheekpieces. 2014, 6 tried best Ahyaknowyourself 4th. 2013 Ackertac 2nd at 66s in first time blinkers. Something wearing first time headgear has been placed in this, some at big prices, in 8 of the last 11. I'm not counting Beakstown last year. Didn't work 2014 with Art Of Logistics or Close House the only qualifiers.


    Having said all that, only Ballyalton and irish Cavalier of the last 12 winners wore any sort of headgear. And neither for the first time.


    Beaten Favourite Last time out. Imperial Aura 4/1 jt fav and A Plus Tard 5/1fav both break my nice stat and becomes the first BFs last time out ever to win this. Aura 5/1 fav when beaten by Simply The Betts in January. A Plus Tard beaten at 5/4f G3 Punchestown. Four others over the past two years.


    And for a little bit of fun, this is Paul Kealy's favourite Festival handicap, impressively all over Imperial Aura in the Weekender at 33s from early January. Even includes a stat.

    'I have a particular fondness for the handicap chases, especially the Ultima and Northern Trust Company Novices' Handicap.I have been fortunate enough to back the winner of the latter seven times in the race's 16-year history, including four of the last seven and three of the last four. The early markets for these do not tend to be taken so seriously by the layers, which is what makes them so interesting. They tend to be lazily priced, especially before entries are made, with many horses from the top yards dominating the markets.

    However, when horses from the top yards run, particularly in the novice race, they are there largely by mistake and that's why only two of the 16 runnings of the novice has been won by the big four trainers (Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson, Gordon Elliott, Willie Mullins) – Nicholls' Chapoturgeon in 2009 and Henderson's Rajdhani Express.

    The pool of horses sent novice chasing by the big four is always much smaller than the pool of horses they have for hurdling and they are looking for Grade 1 horses. Therefore, they tend to be campaigned more openly and those who end up here are the ones who generally have proved not to be good enough. Despite who trains them, they are not obviously well handicapped.

    Therefore, these races tend to offer the smaller yards a real shot at festival glory, as the rollcall of winners of the novice would suggest: Bradstock, Fanshawe, Murphy, Taaffe, Nicholls, Hobbs, Murphy, Burke, Henderson, Snowden, Curtis, Williams, Fleming, Channon, De Bromhead, Bailey.'



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Wealth Warning.  Any decisions made (or not) or the basis of any information in this site are the sole responsibility of the reader.  There is no obligation on me to follow my own advice.  I take no responsibility for (but am keen to hear of) any factual errors.  (Bgault01@gmail.com, @gaultstats). Previous years ‘stats on stats’ would suggest we may identify a decent priced winner from manageable groups every three or four races.  It is believed that Savello (2014 Grand Annual) took from Golden Chieftain (2013 3m hcap chase) the record for breaking the most stats in a race.  Stands now at 8.  Cole Harden equalised with 8 in the 2015 World Hurdle.  Remember, after you have cursed/laughed at me and given up totally on trends, they will come back to bite.  Always happens.  Usually on Gold Cup Day. 

Beware GO SEA - Groundless Optimism Syndrome Encouraged by Alcohol.  A Cotswold condition very common at this time of year.