NATIONAL HUNT CHALLENGE CUP INFO
Date: Tuesday (16:50), March 14, 2023
Type: Grade 2 National Hunt Steeplechase
Distance: (3 Miles 6 Furlongs)
Former professional boxer who is now a content writer specialising in sports and betting. Has worked for some of the biggest names in the industry, including Coral and Betfair covering all manner of sports, from boxing and football to horse racing. A student of the formbook, he loved stats, trends, numbers and how they can guide punters towards a winner.
The 2023 version will be worth a cool £125,000 and will be the last race of a fascinating first day of the festival, going off on Tuesday March 15th at 5.30PM.
As well as the fact that this is an amateur riders’ race giving such jockeys a chance of glory, it encapsulates the racing public who love these long-distance types and while it doesn’t always produce an equine superstar, it has been won by the great Tiger Roll who took the event in 2017. If you’re not familiar with amateur jockeys or betting world in total, make sure to use some of the best Cheltenham new customer offers available on our website to ensure your positive first impressions.
Of course, entries are not yet open for the National Hunt Chase however early betting certainly is as punters and bookmakers make a guess at which types will be involved.
Betting at this stage is naturally wide open, 10/1 the field in fact, but even with relatively little information to go on we can analyse a few of the potential key contenders for the race and begin to formulate an ante post National Hunt Challenge Cup betting plan.
Trends can sometimes point us in a certain direction, but cannot alone help us predict the winner. The last ten renewals of the National Hunt Chase however have highlighted a few things which just might give us a nudge.
Cause Of Causes, a festival favourite, and Back in Focus who was climbing the ranks very quickly are notable exceptions to the fact that most runners tend to have had relatively busy seasons.
This may be because over such a long distance winners of this race are required to be battle-hardened, with all of our eight focus horses here having had at least four runs that season, often more, while nine of the ten (the other being Cause Of Causes) having been placed at least twice that campaign.
7 of the last ten winners were aged 7 or 8, very much the right area we feel, while the others haven’t really hit the extremes either at 6, 9 and 10. Generally speaking six would be a little young and not many will be at their best at 10+, so those aged 7-8 are favoured with nine-year-olds given some sway if fitting nicely into other trend categories.
This is where it gets tricky for us, as only three favourites have won in the last ten years, all in a row and two of them at a relatively large 5/1. The average SP of National Hunt Chase winners in this time is bigger than 8/1, but it also shows that huge outsiders tend not to win the event.
Eight of the last 10 winners have had an SP of between 9/2 and 14/1 and so it seems we should not look beyond this group to find the winner.
Fully 12 jockeys share the title of leading rider in this event, all on just two wins, and given the nature of the race’s amateur status finding a specialist jockey on whom to bet is not advised.
The runaway leading trainer however is Jonjo O’Neill with six wins between 1995 and 2016 and, while times are just a little leaner now at Jackdaws Castle, as a local trainer O’Neill knows how to get the job done at Cheltenham and so anything he runs should be taken seriously.
We await with interest the offers put out by top bookmakers on the Cheltenham Festival, but if 2020 was anything to go by we should be in a for a treat, especially when opening a new account.
Paddy Power’s Cheltenham Special of a £20 Risk Free Bet (money back in cash if your horse loses) was a highlight, as was 888sport’s Bet £10 Get £10 + £10 on Any Horse Racing Market which was produced in time for the Festival.
Declarations for the National Hunt Chase, along with all day one declarations, will be made on Sunday March 8th and by then we will have a much better idea of the field, leading to more accurate National Hunt Challenge Cup tips, but the ante post market is already alive.
Its currently relatively open, with around 40% of bets going the way of Champagne Classic, 25% on Carefully Selected and just 4% on Sam Spinner at this stage as people favour the Irish runners.
As a non-handicap, just three places will be available in the each-way market but prices likely to be good, it that may well be the market we dabble in come race time.
Jamie Codd became the first jockey to ride three winners of the National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival when he partnered Ravenhill to victory for Irish trainer Gordon Elliott. Regarded by many as just as capable as – if not better than – pros, Codd steered the 12/1 chance around 3m 6f in this Grade 2 contest.
Ravenhill may have been weak in the market, but he completed with his head in front – unlike odds-on favourite Carefully Selected for father-son team Willie and Patrick Mullins. While the leading fancy for the National Hunt Chase came to grief when unseating his rider at the last, Codd gave the winner a very patient ride.
Under hold-up tactics during the first circuit, Ravenhill improved into midfield by the 14th of 23 fences and continued to make steady progress from the 17th jump. He challenged the prominent running Lord Du Mesnil before two out and led at the fence, before staying on well for a 2 1/4 lengths victory.
Lord Du Mesnil, previously a gallant runner-up in the Grand National Trial in open handicap company at Haydock Park, just didn’t have anything extra when Ravenhill got to him. The runner-up, who was sent off at 11/2, was in absolutely no danger for second, however, as Colin Tizzard’s 33/1 outsider Lamanver Pippin was a distant third some 28 lengths behind.
Ravenhill is lightly-raced for a 10-year-old and, although he probably has more races behind him than ones to come, he holds an entry in the Grand National at Aintree. With his stamina in no doubt, it will be interesting to see if he is aimed at Aintree by Elliott or whether his trainer feels that will come too soon.
Last year it was expected to be another trophy for Willie Mullins and Ireland as his Ballyward was extremely well-backed for this race, going off the 9/4 favourite.
At it turned out though, despite the 18-strong field, the 2019 National Hunt Chase was very much a two-horse race in the end as Ben Pauling’s Le Breuil and Paul Nolan’s Discorama cleared away from the pack to enter a private battle, the former coming out on top by just a half-length at 14/1 with Jerrysback a full 47 lengths further behind in third place.
The win was jockey Jamie Codd’s second success in the race, both achieved in the last ten years.