Newbury is the host of one of the season’s top novice hurdles and is held either in late December or early January. Previous winners include Grand National winner Bindaree and Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Denman proving it takes a quality horse to take home the spoils.
First run as a juvenile hurdle in 1971, this is now a race for novices’ aged five or older over two and a half miles.
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 29th December 2020
- Winner: Bravemansgame
- SP: 5/2
- Trainer: Paul Nicholls
- Jockey: Harry Cobden
Newbury Racecourse had sold a limited number of tickets for this popular meeting in the hope of allowing some punters a festive racing treat. With Berkshire since placed into a Tier 4 lockdown however, there will be no spectators allowed for the newly sponsored MansionBet Challow Novices’ Hurdle Day. As this is a big meeting though, UK viewers can watch the bulk of the action on ITV4 including this feature race which features six hopefuls.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Soft||2 miles 4½ furlongs||Grade 1||£40,000||6||1/4 1-2|
Challow Novices’ Hurdle Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2020. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
This contest has not been one for surprises in recent years with four of the last five favourites coming out on top. The only exception in this time, Messire Des Obeaux (2016), was certainly not a shock result either, coming home at a price of 100/30. This a good omen for this year’s favourite, which looks set to be Bravemansgame, although Star Gate (9/4) is lurking close behind in the betting.
Another trend supporting Bravemansgame’s claim is that horses aged between five and six years old have won nine of the last 10 renewals. At four years of age, Star Gate is the only horse not to tick this box although with two previous hurdle wins, he does seem to have sufficient experience despite his youth. 10 of our last 14 Challow champions had won two or three times over hurdles previously, something not managed by the Glancing Queen (9/2), nor the unfancied outsider Enfant Roi (66/1).
It is also worth noting that Star Gate and Does He Know are the only pair that currently have a graded hurdles victory under their belt. This is a fairly common theme of winners of this contest, with nine of the last 14 having previously managed a Grade 2 hurdles win. You may spot that the Glancing Queen does have a Grade 2 win as well but this came in a NH flat race last year.
|Bravemansgame||15/8||143||Paul Nicholls||Harry Cobden|
|Does He Know||5/1||143||Kim Bailey||David Bass|
Bravemansgame – 15/8
There are some talented horses in the mix for this competitive Challow Novices’ Hurdle but none more so than Bravemansgame. Some of you may be more persuaded by his nearest challenger, Star Gate, but we are not sufficiently convinced by his recent Grade 2 victory. He faced just two other runners that day and the pace of the contest was very slow, even taking into account the muddy conditions. Bravemansgame has not faced a test at such a high level but as the trends indicate, this is not a major concern.
Rather than a graded contest last time out, Bravemansgame headed to Newbury for a Class 3 challenge. Having won by a large margin weeks earlier at Exeter, he set off as the 8/11 favourite and duly delivered. It was a fine display from start to finish in the end with the French horse travelling and jumping strongly throughout. A recent course win certainly will not harm his chances here, nor will Paul Nicholls’ record over hurdles this year. Although the Somerset-based trainer has not won this contest since the 2005 edition, he’s enjoyed an excellent season (April to April) so far. Over British hurdles, he boasts an impressive strike rate of 27%, resulting in a level stakes profit of £4.50.
Happy at this distance, in great form, a solid jumper and originating from a top-class yard, Bravemansgame has plenty going for him. The only factor potentially working against him will be the soft ground, but we do not think this will prove decisive.
Does He Know – 5/1
You will get little in the way of profit if backing the runner-up on each way terms but you can always opt for a place only or forecast bet. If so, our pick to clinch second spot would be Does He Know. Trainer Kim Bailey’s hurdlers have fared well so far this season, winning 21% of the time and placing in 20% of races. Does He Know is one of the best she currently has to offer having made an extremely strong return to hurdlers following a lengthy break.
Last season the bay gelding featured just twice, on both occasions managing to finish runner-up over the hurdles. Following a near year-long break, he showed no signs of rustiness on his return when easily claiming his first win at Ludlow. He followed this up with a great – albeit not flawless – display in a Class 2 race at Cheltenham before a Grade 2 win a few weeks later at the same course. Having won the graded 2m5f contest on good/soft ground, while once again showing a tendency to finish strongly, we are backing the son of Alkaased to impress on Tuesday.
Challow Novices’ Hurdle Winners
|2020||Bravemansgame||5/2||Paul Nicholls||Harry Cobden|
|2019||Thyme Hill||4/6||Philip Hobbs||Richard Johnson|
|2018||Champ||Evens||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty|
|2017||Poetic Rhythm||15/8||Fergal O'Brien||Paddy Brennan|
|2016||Messire Des Obeaux||10/3||Alan King||Daryl Jacob|
|2015||Barters Hill||4/11||Ben Pauling||David Bass|
|2014||Parlour Games||6/1||John Ferguson||Noel Fehily|
|2013||Captain Cutter||8/1||Nicky Henderson||A P McCoy|
|2012||Taquin Du Seuil||13/8||Jonjo O'Neill||A P McCoy|
|2011||Fingal Bay||1/4||Philip Hobbs||Richard Johnson|
About the Challow Novices’ Hurdle: Newbury’s Class Act
Since holding its first ever meeting way back in 1905, the Berkshire venue of Newbury racecourse has grown to become one of the very best dual purpose tracks in the land. The course plays host to a number of famous events over the course of the season – including the Lockinge Stakes, the Ladbrokes Trophy and the Greatwood Gold Cup – but just the one Grade 1 National Hunt event.
That contest comes in late December/early January each year in the shape of this 2m4½f event for the novice hurdlers. First taking place in the 1970-71 season, and named in honour of the nearby town of the same name, the race was initially a juvenile only affair held over the shorter distance of two miles.
Opened up to older runners from the 1981-82 season onwards, by 1999 the conditions of the contest had altered to exclude the juvenile entries, with the distance of the race also being increased to its current trip. Considering the distance and conditions of the event, the Cheltenham Festival race with which this contest ties in most closely is the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
Champ Is Out On His Own
There have been nine riders in total to have landed this prize on more than one occasion; and whilst a total of two wins has proven to be the limit for eight of those jockeys (as of 2019), there is one man who has blasted through that ceiling to pull well clear at the head of affairs.
No surprises that that man is 20-time champion jockey, Tony McCoy. Possibly the pick of McCoy’s six winners in the race is one of the horses with whom he is most commonly associated – Wichita Lineman. Successful here in 2006, the JP McManus runner went on to enjoy success at the Cheltenham Festival in 2009, thanks to an incredible never say die ride from McCoy.
Jonjo Just In Front
Tony McCoy’s chief partner in crime when it came to racking up the wins in this race was one of his long-time allies, Jonjo O’Neill. Having provided McCoy with four of his six wins in the race, it is O’Neill who tops the trainer’s table – albeit only just.
Gold Cup and Grand National Winners On Roll Of Honour
This may be a novice hurdle contest, but the two most famous winners of the race are so well known due to their exploits over the larger obstacles. In the case of 1999 victor, Bindaree, those larger obstacles were in fact the largest of them all, with the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained runner going on to a famous success in the 2002 Grand National.
The most talented horse to come home in front here though was undoubtedly 2006 winner, Denman. Known affectionately as “The Tank”, this Paul Nicholls-trained warrior of a horse went on to land three Grade 1 chases – most famously of all when delivering a brutal front running display to win the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup by seven lengths.