The Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase was introduced in 2005 when the Cheltenham Festival increased its running from three days to a four-day event.
From 2005 until 2010 it was known as the Jewson’s Novice’s Handicap Chase due to sponsorship and was run in those years on Day Three of the Festival. When Jewson’s switched their sponsorship to another race in 2011 the race was renamed the Centenary Novice’s Handicap Chase as Cheltenham Festival commemorated its one hundredth year.
The steeplechase is run over the Old Course – as are all races on Day One of the Cheltenham Festival – with a distance of 4,124 metres or 2 miles and 4.5 furlongs covered. There are 16 fences horses must jump during the running. Prize money totals £65,000, with the winning team taking home £34,170 of that.
Race history and records
The Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase is a relatively new race at Cheltenham with just 11 years of history from 2005 to 2015.
Within that time jockey Graham Lee has won twice, on L’Antartique in 2007 and Divers in 2011. Both horses came from the stables of trainer Ferdy Murphy, making him the current leading trainer for the event.
The inaugural Chase was won by Mattie Batchelor on King Harald, trained by Mark Bradstock. 2015 saw the first winner in this event by a horse from a female trainer. Rebecca Curtis, famed for moulding untouched young horses into winners, entered Irish Cavalier with jockey Paul Townend to take home her fourth win at Cheltenham.
Rebecca is perhaps best known as a trainer for her successes with Teaforthree, who won the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham in 2012 and came a respectable third in the 2013 Grand National.
January’s Paddy Fitzpatrick Memorial Novice Chase, which takes place at Leapardstown, gives a good indication of form for this race.
Slightly more mature horses tend to do well here, with six out of 11 races won by seven-year-olds and only one five-year-old winner to date. Progressive chasers with weight of under 11st tend to fare particularly well.
Another thrilling race for less well-known stars of British horse racing, the Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase rounds off Day One at the Cheltenham Festival in style.