NH Chase for Amateurs, 4m, March 15, 4.50pm
Key Stat: Trainer Jonjo O’Neill has won this race five times
The emphasis is now very firmly on class, though general chasing experience has also been a significant factor. Four of the last five winners had contested a Grade 1 novice chase earlier in the season and three of those were officially top rated and started favourite.
On the experience front, two of the last six winners were second-season chasers and last season’s 1-2-3 had all run in good handicap chases so weren’t ‘normal’ novices.
Five and six-year-olds have struggled are a combined 1 win from 67 attempts since 1989. Horses in form are key with 10 of the last 13 winners finishing first or second last time out.
Having won this race five times, Jonjo O’Neill will be many punters idea of the first name to look for. Paul Nicholls’ record on the other hand doesn’t read well with just one placed horse from 16 contenders of which nine started in the first five in the betting.
Alan King has won two of the last eight renewals. Willie Mullins, Patrick Mullins and Graham Wylie took the 2013 running with the well-backed favourite, Back In Focus, and they could supply this season’s market too if Black Hercules who fell at the last fence at Navan in Februery with the race at his mercy is aimed at this prize.
Jockeyship is also important being restricted to amateur riders and it’s about time Nina Carberry added the NH Chase to her C.V. She has led over the final fence on three occasions in the last six runnings in the Gigginstown silks but then hauled back.
Maybe Roi Des Francs or last season’s Irish Grand National runner-up Rule The World could right that wrong?