Originally known as the Feltham Novices’ Chase, the Kauto Star was renamed in honour of one of the greatest Gold Cup winners we’ve ever seen.
Although arguably not as good as the great Kauto Star, a top winner of this race to have gone on to Cheltenham glory was Coneygree, who managed to win the Gold Cup itself as a novice chaser back in 2015.
The Kauto Star Novices’ Chase 2022 will be run as usual at Kempton Park during their King George meeting on Boxing Day, Monday, December 26th, over three miles with 18 fences to be jumped. That year’s renewal was worth £100,000. Lots of bets for much higher costs were made too.
Paul Nicholls is the leading trainer in the history of this race with five winners; See More Indians (1993), Strong Flow (2003), Breedsbreeze (2008), Black Corton (2017) and Bravemansgame (2021). He trains McFabulous who stands out in the 2022 Kauto Star Novices Chase entries.
He was a very talented hurdler, winning three times at Grade 2 level. His biggest victory came in the Select Hurdle at Sandown in April and he also won the Relkeel Hurdle in 2021. He was pulled up on his chasing bow at Wincanton but has since posted impressive victories at Exeter and Newbury. His latest success came at the expense of the odds-on favourite and Grade 1 winner hurdler Thyme Hill.
It will be interesting to see if Thyme Hill features among the Kauto Novices Chase entries after that defeat. Trainer Philip Hobbs has his sights set on the Brown Advisory Chase at Cheltenham but it was disappointing to see Thyme Hill so comprehensively beaten at Newbury. He did not jump with any fluency that day and is capable of better.
Nicholls has another possible Kauto Star Novices Chase runner in Gelino Bello, although the early indications are that he will keep him and McFabulous apart. Gelino Bello won a Grade 1 Hurdle at Aintree in the spring and has eased to comfortable victories over fences at Wetherby and Exeter this season.
Dan Skelton’s Ballygrifincottage was an impressive winner at Haydock last time out, beating odds-on favourite Beauport by 11 lengths. He finished fourth in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival but has always looked a chaser in the making. He likes soft ground so connections will be hoping for plenty of rain at Kempton Park.
Kauto Star Novices Chase Tip: McFabulous 3.00 Kempton Park (Monday 26th December)
The Brown Advisory Novices Chase, formerly the RSA Chase, is the main target for winners and placed horses in the Kauto Star Novices Chase. Five of the last eleven winners of the Kempton contest have gone on to run in the Brown Advisory, although none were successful.
An alternative Cheltenham Festival target is the Turners Novices Chase, run over two and a half miles. Dynaste (2012) finished second in that race, then known as the JLT Novices Chase. 2020 winner Shan Blue finished fifth in the Turners but 2021 winner Bravemansgame side-stepped the Festival meeting altogether because of the rain-softened ground.
2014 winner Coneygree famously won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2015. He stepped out of novice company to win the Grade 2 Denman Chase at Newbury, earning a tilt at the big race in the process. Coneygree was the first novice to win the Gold Cup since Captain Christy in 1974. It was only his fifth race over fences and he defeated a dual King George VI Chase winner and a Gold Cup runner-up.
Having been shared out fairly evenly and with no trainer(s) having dominated, the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase 2021 could be taken by just about any yard with a good, young staying chaser on their hands.
With the exception of Long Run (4) and Joe Lively (8), all of our post-millennium winners have been aged 5-7 so that’s the area to concentrate on, but it’s important to note that given the last 18 winners’ subsequent performances at Cheltenham, it may be wise not to concentrate on the horses supposedly leading the way in this division.
That fact is also backed up by the prices of the last 18 winners. 7 favourites have won in that time, but that’s not a great percentage for a Grade 1 race and in fact the average starting price of winners here is more than 5/1 in this time period with winners right up to 12/1, 14/1 and 33/1, so don’t by any means concentrate only on the market leaders when handicapping Kauto Star Novices’ Chase runners.
With such names as Santini and Topofthegame in the 2018 Kauto Star for such top trainers as Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls respectively, it was expected by many that they would be fighting out the finish.
Instead though, Warren Greatrex’s 8/1 shot La Bague Au Roi was the one that, having passed 11/10 favourite Santini, who put it up to Topofthegame (5/1) at the last fence, jumping better than his rival before very gamely edging ahead towards the line for a famous win.
He didn’t go on to the Cheltenham Festival, instead heading to Ireland and then Aintree, but plenty of others have as we see here in the list of all Kauto Star Novices’ Chase winners since the turn of the millennium.
The 2021 Kauto Star Novices Chase was billed as a re-match between Ahoy Senor and Bravemansgame, first and second in a Grade 1 Hurdle at the Aintree Grand National meeting. Both horses had made a successful switch to the larger obstacles. Bravemansgame had posted impressive victories at Newton Abbot and Haydock while Ahoy Senor had bounced back from unseating his rider at Carlisle to win by 31 lengths at Newbury.
There was very little to choose between the horses in the betting with Ahoy Senor eventually just favourite at the off. Jockey Derek Fox sent Ahoy Senor to the front in the 4-runner field but he made mistakes at the third and eleventh fences. Harry Cobden was content to bide his time on Bravemansgame who was much more fluent over his fences.
The race was decided at the fifteenth fence where Ahoy Senor blundered badly and almost unseated Fox. Bravemansgame moved easily to the front before the second last and was driven clear, eventually winning by seven and a half lengths. 28-1 outsider Kiltealy Briggs stayed on at one pace to finish third with Tea Clipper a remote fourth.
2021 Kauto Star Novices Chase Result
🥇 1st Bravemansgame 6-5
🥈 2nd Ahoy Senior 11-10 Favourite
🥉 3rd Kiltealy Briggs 28-1
🐎 4 ran
👨🏻💼 Winning Trainer: Paul Nicholls
🏇 Winning Jockey: Harry Cobden
Trainer-jockey brothers Dan and Harry Skelton pulled off a Kempton Boxing Day double thanks to Third Time Lucki in a novice hurdle and then Shan Blue completing his hat-trick over fences in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase. This was another fluent performance from the dual Wetherby winner stepping up markedly in class. Shan Blue raced prominently throughout and jumped best of all. Sent off the 7/4 favourite, his supporters never had an anxious moment despite pressure in the home straight from main market rival The Big Breakaway. A mistake by Colin Tizzard’s 16/5 chance under Robbie Power at the last ensured victory for Shan Blue, who scored by 3¾ lengths in convincing fashion.
The front two pulled almost four lengths further clear of the rallying If The Cap Fits, who raced in rear for much of the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase and then picked off tiring pacier horses. Harry Fry’s useful staying hurdler just took third on the run to the line at 4/1 from 40/1 rank outsider Golan Fortune from the Phil Middleton stable. If The Cap Fits was never going the pace to challenge Shan Blue, however, with Nick Williams inmate One For The Team (18/1) the last of five to complete. Both Paul Nicholls runner Enrilo (6/1) and Phillip Hobbs’ Kalooki (12/1) got pulled before the third last.