Scilly Isles Novices' Chase Betting Tips, Stats & History

The Scilly Isles Novices' Chase is a Grade 1 contest over 2 miles 4 furlongs. Despite the title, the race isn't named after the islands off the Cornish coast, it is in fact named after an infamous roundabout close to Sandown Park in Esher, Surrey.

This is the last Grade 1 Novices' Chase before the Cheltenham Festival so plays a crucial part of the season for many promising new chasers. The first running took place in 1964, with familiar past winners including Best Mate, Oscar Whisky and Bristol De Mai.

Race Info

A prize pool of £55,000 is available for this Grade 1 contest run over 2½ miles. The going is set to be soft with 5 runners lining up.

GoingDistanceGradePrize MoneyRunnersEW Terms
Soft 2m4f Grade 1 £55,000 5 Runners 1/4 1-2

About the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase

Scilly Isles Roundabout in Esher, Surrey
Scilly Isles Roundabout, Photo © Hugh Venables (cc-by-sa/2.0)

The novices’ chasing division is one of the most exciting in jumps racing. Many horses graduate from hurdles with big reputations only to fail to make the step up when it comes to the bigger obstacles. At the same time there are always unheralded horses who thrive when given the chance to compete over fences. The Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase is one of a number of very important races in the exciting novices’ chasing division.

The Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase was introduced in 1964. Although you may think it was named after the Isles of Scilly, in fact, the race gets its name from a local roundabout! Races don’t get much more glamourous than that! When the roundabout - which is between the two Surrey towns of Kingston upon Thames and Esher - was introduced, it was known as the ‘silly islands’ by locals hence the name.

A Serious Test

Despite its name, there is nothing silly about the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase. Indeed, this is a very serious race which is run at the Grade 1 level. The race trends show that a previous win in a Graded race is an important indicator of success in the Scilly Isles Chase whilst those who have experience of Sandown have a slight statistical edge as well.

Chart Showing the Previous Experience of Scilly Isles Novices' Chase Winners Between 2000 and 2020

The careers of Scilly Isles competitors can go in a few different directions. That’s because of its distance of 2 miles, 4 furlongs and 10 yards. 2 ½ miles is long enough for inexperienced chasers who go on to become stayers yet short enough for quicker horses who stick to this sort of middle distance trip.

Important Cheltenham Pointers

Perhaps the most important element of the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase is its timing. It takes place every year in either late January or early February which is just the perfect place in the schedule. At this stage of the season, the leading contenders in the novices’ chasing division have already made themselves known and the Cheltenham Festival is just around the corner.

For most punters, the best thing about the Scilly Isles Chase is the chance to get some important pointers ahead of Cheltenham. It has had a particularly close relationship with the Golden Miller Novices’ Chase since that race was introduced at Cheltenham in 2011. The record of Scilly Isles winners has improved in recent years with Defi Du Seuil becoming the first winner of both races in 2019.

It’s not just the proximity in time to Cheltenham that means the Scilly Isles Chase provides so many pointers. Sandown is a particularly tough track for novices to race at. The going is usually soft around this time in the winter and the infamous fences on the railway straight provide a real test of a horse’s jumping.

Although there are plenty of differences between Sandown and Cheltenham - Sandown is a right-handed track and much flatter than Cheltenham - novices who pass the test in the Scilly Isles Chase should be seriously considered for the Festival. You’ll find the Cheltenham record of recent winners below so it really is one to follow ahead of the March spectacular.

Scilly Isles Chase Winners at Cheltenham: 2010 - 2019

Year Scilly Isles Chase Winner Cheltenham Race & Position
2019 Defi Du Seuil 1st – (JLT) Golden Miller Novices’ Chase
2018 Terrefort 2nd – (JLT) Golden Miller Novices’ Chase
2017 Top Notch 2nd – (JLT) Golden Miller Novices’ Chase
2016 Bristol De Mai 2nd - Golden Miller Novices’ Chase
2015 Gitane Du Berlais Did Not Run
2014 Oscar Whisky Fell – (JLT) Golden Miller Novices’ Chase
2013 Captain Conan 5th – (Jewson) Golden Miller Novice’s Chase
2012 For Non Stop 3rd – (Jewson) Golden Miller Novice’s Chase
2011 Medermit 4th - The Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase
2010 Punchestowns 5th - RSA Chase

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