November 20, 2023 at 15:52 #1671132
Exeter today. First race, novice chase worth £10,000 to the winner. 2 runners.
Warwick on Wednesday. First race, novice chase worth £10,000 to the winner. 2 declared runners.
What can be done to make novice chases more interesting and competitive? Are there too many of them for the horse population?November 20, 2023 at 16:02 #1671134greenasgrassParticipant
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“What can be done to make novice chases more interesting and competitive? ”
Lay on a free boat from Ireland? Barry Connell is crying that there aren’t enough races for his precious. Mind you, it’s winter ground for that 2m chase at Warwick and he doesn’t want his NH horse to run on NH ground.
“Connell said: “I’m not going to run Marine Nationale at Navan if the ground is like this – I’ll wait until Leopardstown. He’s definitely ground dependent and I don’t want to give him a gruelling race at the start of the season.
“If I have to wait until Leopardstown at Christmas, that’s fine. He went to Cheltenham last season on the back of two runs so it’s not a big issue. There aren’t many beginners’ chases to run him in.” “November 20, 2023 at 16:11 #1671136
To make it worse today, the saddle slipped on one of the runners and he had to be pulled up.November 21, 2023 at 12:10 #1671371
The novice chase at Warwick tomorrow is now a walkover.
I don’t suppose the crowd will get any money back, even though they are going to see one less race than they have paid for.November 21, 2023 at 16:47 #1671387
“Are there too many of them for the horse population”?
Yes.Value Is EverythingNovember 21, 2023 at 18:32 #1671399Miss WoodfordParticipant
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Not necessarily too many for the horse population, but too many for the current slate of NH trainers that consider 2 or 3 races a full season.November 21, 2023 at 22:43 #1671413MarlingfordParticipant
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I know some people would like to do away with novice races entirely.
The purpose of novice chases is presumably to allow less experienced horses to learn their craft in a slightly less pressurised environment. If this is still deemed a route that should be encouraged and to be in the best interest of the horse, I have to question why so many horses are allowed to bypass it and go straight into open company.
Perhaps a solution could be to insist that all horses new to chasing under Rules must compete in three non-handicap novice chases before they can compete in handicaps or open company. This would also give the handicapper a better opportunity to assess the horse’s chasing ability.November 22, 2023 at 23:47 #1671469CoggyParticipant
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Agree entirely with Marlingford.
We should also revert back to the novice chase system where newcomers entered at this point , and winners of such events got 3 , 5 , and 7 pound penalties.November 23, 2023 at 10:42 #1671489
The problem with the argument in favour of novice chases as the opportunity for horses to learn about jumping fences, is the horses from the past that showed they didn’t need experience.
Kauto Star won the Haldon Gold Cup on his third start over fences and the Tingle Creek on his fourth.
Coneygree won the Denman Chase on his third start and the Gold Cup on his fourth.
And recall the fuss about The Young Master winning the Badger Beer Chase on his third start over fences and then disqualified because he should have had three runs to qualify.
And we have a prime example of the defects in the current system with Iroko. Wins a novice chase then sustains a season ending injury. So he’ll return (hopefully) next year and be taking on top class chasers (no choice as he’s got a 149 handicap mark) from his second start.
The three runs to get a mark was never an actual rule, but it was the way most trainers opted to place their novice chasers. But not always – check out the career of 1990 Arkle winner Waterloo Boy, and you’ll find his first run was an open handicap chase at Worcester, when he ran off a mark of 96! He won two more handicaps before venturing into level weight novice chases. That mark was based solely on seven runs in novice hurdles the previous season – he’d never run in any handicap prior to Worcester.November 23, 2023 at 11:15 #1671490MarlingfordParticipant
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Some horses are highly adept chasers from the outset, but others benefit from race practice. It’s not always obvious how a horse will cope until it takes part in a race.
While I appreciate that natural chasers may be slightly disadvantaged by my suggestion, I would like to think it was for the greater good of the horse population as a whole. Under what I am suggesting, Iroko would still need to take part in two further novice chases on his return.November 23, 2023 at 16:32 #1671503
Does every race for inexperienced horses need to be a “Novice” or “Handicap” as such?
Couldn’t some races be under the title of “Winners Of One” race? Maybe with the race conditions stipulating a limit to the number of runs too.Value Is EverythingNovember 23, 2023 at 20:52 #1671521
What you describe is not much different to what was tried under the name of Graduation Chases. But like all the fiddling around the BHA have done with novice chases, it was half hearted.
They come up with something new, but don’t fully commit, they just schedule four or five races as a trial. And are then surprised when it doesn’t work. A trainer can’t plan a full program for a horse based on that small number of races scattered through the program, different locations, different distances etc. Because they know they’ll still have to run in handicaps for most of their starts during the season, they ignore the new type of race for fear of getting a higher handicap mark.
When I was writing that series of posts in early 2020, that ran into the lockdown pause, comparing the program in 1990 to that in 2020, I reported 16 non handicap novice chases staged in a single week in 1990. And that’s why trainers were happy to run several times in novice chases before moving into handicaps, because they knew there’d be a suitable race for them every week at a local track.
They also knew that they’d be going into handicaps with a low handicap mark, so would be limited to the midweek meetings, which meant moderate prize money, no better than what was on offer in the novice races. That changed when the BHA employed a maths teacher (Phil Smith) as head of handicapping and novice chasers were suddenly getting marks high enough to enable them to get into valuable handicap races at Cheltenham and Aintree etc.
Novice chases have never recovered from the impact of his time in charge.November 23, 2023 at 21:02 #1671523
The post about novice chases in 1990 can be found about 2/3rds of the way down page 2 of this thread:
And you’ll also see that I’m consistent in my arguments on the topic!November 24, 2023 at 01:30 #1671544
Great reading those three pages AP, thanks.
Some of my favourites in the VC and AM.
Not sure what the solution is with novice chasers.
Did novice handicaps work? Or have they also taken away horses who used to fill the fields in level weighted novices? I know there was an arguement against level weighted novice races because they are less competitive and therefore supposedly don’t bring in the money from punters for the levy. But over the years I’ve had far more bets in level weighted novices than novice handicaps; Maybe because the latter are of less quality. Level weighted novice races back in the day also gave a structure to the season, races for the future stars. Whereas novice handicaps aren’t really any different to handicaps – only for inexperienced horses..
But if any type of race isn’t getting enough runners, it’s only a matter of time before they’re given the boot. Maybe a change would be best. More competitive than level weighted novices might be a solid structure of beginners Chases, Winners Of One, Winners Of Two and Graduation Chases as a complete replacement of novice races – at least until the Championship races come around. And given some time to establish themselves with trainers and owners. With handicaps allowed after three chases (two chases only if a winner of one of those two). I know there is always the Kauto Star / Coneygree arguement, but they were particularly good leapers; not the norm… And – as Marlingford imo rightly implies – got to think of what’s best for the majority of runners.
.Value Is EverythingNovember 24, 2023 at 19:01 #1671592Quelle FarceParticipant
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There’s a Graduation Chase tomorrow at Haydock. One horse in it is having its first run over fences. Against a horse who has competed in 10 chases and was third in the Grand National, the most gruelling race in the land.
What a nonsense.November 24, 2023 at 19:03 #1671594Quelle FarceParticipant
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As an extra point to that last message, there are horses running on veteran’s chases recently (Thomas Darby springs to mind) who have less experience over fences than Gailliard du Mesnil.
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