JLT Novices’ Chase

The JLT Novices’ Chase, registered as the Golden Miller Novices’ Chase, is run over 2 miles 4 furlongs on the New Course at Cheltenham and is currently scheduled as the opening race on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival. As the name suggests, the race is open to novice chasers – that is, horses that have not won a steeplechase prior to the start of the current seasons – aged five years and upwards.

The JLT Novices’ Chase is a recent addition to the Cheltenham Festival programme, having been run for the first time in 2011, when it was sponsored by builders’ merchants Jewson. In 2014, global insurance broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) Group plc took over sponsorship of the race, which was upgraded to Grade One status by the British Horseracing Authority.

Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins has dominated the JLT Novices’ Chase in its short history, having saddled Sir Des Champs (2012), Vautour (2015) and Black Hercules (2016) for a total of three wins in six years. Ruby Walsh, who rode Vautour and Black Hercules, is the leading jockey with two wins.

Both Sir Des Champs and Vautour returned to the Cheltenham Festival the following year, the former finishing second to Bobs Worth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the latter running out a very comfortable winner of the Ryanair Chase. Black Hercules was Ruby Walsh’s 50th winner at the Cheltenham Festival and is currently quoted at a top-priced 33/1 for the 2017 renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

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