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.
Challow Novices’ Hurdle Course Map (Jumps Course)
Challow Novices’ Hurdle Past Winners
|Messire Des Obeaux
|A P McCoy
|Taquin Du Seuil
|A P McCoy
|Reve de Sivola
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 Coral Gold Cup 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 ten 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 2023), 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.
The only other jockey to break the two win mark here was Harry Cobden who has had four successive wins between 2020 and 2023 with Bravemansgame, Stage Star, Hermes Allen and Captain Teague all for trainer Paul Nicholls.
Nicholls 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 was O’Neill who topped the trainer’s table for many years. He has since been surpassed by Paul Nicholls, however, who won this for the first time back in 2003 with Cornish Rebel, winning again in 2006 with future Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Denman. Nicholls had to wait fourteen years for win number three in 2020 with Bravemansgame. Like busses, Paul Nicholls won the next three renewals after that to draw clear in the training ranks.
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.
Another Nicholls winner, Bravemansgame, stormed to a fourteen length success in the King George VI Chase at Kempton two years on from his win in the 2020 Challow Novices’ Hurdle.