The Marsh Novices Chase, formerly the JLT Novices’ Chase, is one of the newer races at the Cheltenham Festival. The Day 3 opener has been dominated by the Irish since its inaugural running in 2011, our friends from the Emerald Isle winning all but two of the editions to date.
Registered as the Golden Millar Novices’ Chase, this race is named in honour of the legendary chaser who won five consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups in the 1930’s along with a Grand National victory which came in 1934.
Marsh Novices’ Chase Past Winners
|2021||Chantry House||9/1||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville|
|2020||Samcro||4/1||Gordon Elliott||Davy Russell|
|2019||Defi Du Seuil||3/1||Philip Hobbs||Barry Geraghty|
|2018||Shattered Love||4/1||Gordon Elliott||Jack Kennedy|
|2017||Yorkhill||6/4||Willie Mullins||Ruby Walsh|
|2016||Black Hercules||4/1||Willie Mullins||Ruby Walsh|
|2015||Vautour||6/4||Willie Mullins||Ruby Walsh|
|2014||Taquin Deu Seuil||7/1||Jonjo O’Neill||Tony McCoy|
|2013||Benefficient||20/1||Tony Martin||Bryan Cooper|
|2012||Sir Des Champs||3/1||Willie Mullins||Davy Russell|
|2011||Noble Prince||4/1||Paul Nolan||Tony McCoy|
About the Marsh Novices’ Chase: The Day 3 Opener
Leading horses will often have multiple different options going into the Cheltenham Festival. That is most certainly the case with novice chasers who are often entered into a couple of the big novices’ races including the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase and the Marsh Novices’ Chase.
Comparison of Marsh & Brown Advisory Novices’ Chases
|Marsh Novices’ Chase||Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase|
|Distance||2 Miles 4 Furlongs||3 Miles ½ Furlong|
|Prize Fund||£131,250 (2021)||£131,250 (2021)|
|Ages||5 Years Old+||5 Years Old+|
|Grade||Class 1, Grade 1||Class 1, Grade 1|
The most obvious difference between the two races is the distance. At two miles and four furlongs the Marsh Novices’ Chase is around half a mile shorter and it has four fewer fences with a total of 16. The Marsh Chase is a considerably younger race having been introduced to the Festival in 2011. Those factors combined mean that the Marsh Novices’ Chase isn’t held in quite the same regard as the Brown Advisory Chase but don’t think for a second that this is unimportant.
Like many major horse races, the Marsh Novices’ Chase has had a number of changes in title due to sponsorship, although the race is officially registered as the Golden Miller Novices’ Chase.
Golden Miller Novices’ Chase Title Changes: 2011 – 2021
|Race Name||Sponsor||Year From||Year To|
|Marsh Novices’ Hurdle||Marsh Insurance||2020||Present|
|JLT Novices’ Hurdle||Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group||2014||2019|
|Jewson Novices’ Chase||Jewson Builders’ Merchants||2011||2013|
Race Holds Prestige
Connections of Yorkhill took home a record £89,275 when he won the 2017 renewal. This has dropped slightly since with the 2021 winner collecting £73,854. That a race which is less than 10 years old can have such a sizeable prize pot is no mean feat and shows that the Marsh Novices’ Chase is a popular contest, as does the fact that it was promoted from Grade 2 to Grade 1 level for the 2014 renewal.
Another way of ascertaining the quality of a race is by looking at the list of previous winners. Some high calibre types have claimed the race including Sir Des Champs and Vautour but the most impressive list is that of the winning trainers. Willie Mullins has more wins in the biggest Cheltenham races than most and he wasted little time getting off the mark in the Marsh Novices’ Chase, training Sir Des Champs to victory in the second edition.
Mullins then went on to secure an impressive hat-trick of successive wins from 2015 to 2017 in between wins for other top drawer trainers, Jonjo O’Neill and Gordon Elliott. Similarly, some of the most successful National Hunt jockeys of recent times including Davy Russell, Ruby Walsh and Tony McCoy have ridden the winner of the Marsh Novices’ Chase.
Named After A Great
When you look through the records of those big names you may not immediately see the Marsh Novices’ Chase in their list of wins. That’s because the race is officially registered as the Golden Miller Novices’ Chase in honour of a true legend of the Cheltenham Festival. Among Golden Miller’s achievements include being the most successful Cheltenham Gold Cup horse in history (winning it five times!) and being the only horse to win both the Gold Cup and the Grand National in the same year (1934).
We won’t see the likes of Golden Miller again but future winners of the Marsh Novices’ Chase will doubtless go on to big things. Vautour, arguably the most impressive winner of the race, went on to win the Ryanair Chase the following year which is often a target. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is also sometimes a target (Sir Des Champs finished second in 2013) but the form doesn’t always hold up as Yorkhill struggled badly in the season following his Marsh Chase win. Shattered Love, who won this race in 2018, finished 9th and last of the finishers in the 2019 Gold Cup.