Dipper Novices’ Chase

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The Grade 2 Dipper Novices Chase is also over two and a half miles and was held at Newcastle until being switched to Cheltenham in 2005.

The inaugural running was famously won by subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Little Owl in 1980.

Other significant winners include Barton (2002), My Way De Solzen (2007), Whisper (2017) and L’Homme Presse (2022). The latter returned to Cheltenham in March to win the Grade 1 Brown Advisory Novices Chase.

Find out more about the Dipper Novices’ Chase:

Dipper Novices’ Chase

Race Overview – The Dipper Novices Chase

Horses must be five years old or older to compete in the Grade 2 Dipper Novices’ Chase.

There are seventeen obstacles to be jumped during the race, which is run on the New Course at Cheltenham over a distance of around 2 miles and 412 furlongs (2 miles 4 furlongs and 127 yards or 4,175 metres).

The Novice Chasers’ race takes place on New Year’s Day each year.

Famous Dipper Novices Chase Winners

The victory of subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Little Owl in 1980 gave this race a sensational launch. The six-year-old was trained by Peter Easterby and ridden by Jonjo O’Neill, although he was ridden by amateur Jim Wilson at the Cheltenham Festival. He won his first eight completed starts over fences but he was plagued with injury problems later in his career. He won 16 of his 33 career starts, his last notable success coming in the 1982 Tommy Whittle Chase at Haydock Park.

The race continued to produce high-class winners including Michael Dickinson’s Lettoch (1983) and the Gordon Richards-trained Jim Thorpe (1987). Arthur Stephenson trained Blazing Walker to win this race as a five-year-old in 1989. He was a high-class two-mile chaser who claimed notable victories at Ascot, Sandown and Aintree under regular rider Chris Grant.

2002 winner Barton won for Tim Easterby and Tony Dobbin. He won 14 of his 26 races under rules and was a very talented performer over hurdles and fences. He won the Royal & Sun Alliance Novices’ Hurdle at the 1999 Cheltenham Festival and the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle in 2000. He also won the Aintree Hurdle in 2001 before switching to fences.

2007 winner My Way de Solzen had won the Grade 1 World Hurdle at Cheltenham the previous season. He was trained by Alan King and returned to the 2007 festival to win the Arkle Challenge Trophy. His other notable career victories include the Long Walk Hurdle (2005) and National Spirit Hurdle (2006).

Oscar Whisky provided Trainer Nicky Henderson with his first win in the race in 2014 and he struck again with Whisper in 2017. Other recent high-class winners include Yanworth (2018), Lostintranslation (2019) and L’Homme Presse (2022).

Key Dipper Novices Chase Trials

There are no specific trial races for the Dipper Novices Chase but previous form at Cheltenham has been a factor.

Eight of the last eleven winners had raced at the course at least twice previously.

Five of those had recorded at least one Cheltenham victory.

Six of the last eleven winners had been successful on their previous outing.

Five of the last twelve winners of the Dipper Novices Chase ran in the Scilly Isles Novices Chase at Sandown next time. Oscar Whisky (2014) and L’Homme Presse (2022) won both races. Lostintranslation (2019) and Midnight Shadow (2020) both finished runner-up at Sandown.

Eight of the last twelve winners ran at the Cheltenham Festival that season; five ran in the Marsh Novices Chase and three ran in the Brown Advisory Novices Chase. Only L’Homme Presse (Brown Advisory) was successful.

Three outright favourites and one joint-favourite have won this race in the last eleven seasons. Oscar Whisky (2014) won at 5-6, Ptit Zig (2015) at Even money and L’Homme Presse (2022) won at 7-4. Yanworth returned at 15-8 joint-favourite in 2018.

Hell’s Bay (2011) was a shock 16-1 winner for Colin and Joe Tizzard but there have been no real surprises since. Champion Court (2012) won at 6-1 for Martin Keighley and Alain Cawley but the longest winning odds in the last nine seasons was Midnight Shadow (2020) at 4-1.

Only two five-year-olds have won the Dipper; Blazing Walker in 1989 and My Will in 2005. There is no real trend in the winning age groups here with a fairly even spread in recent seasons. Ptit Zig won at the age of six while Oscar Whisky (2014), Whisper (2017) and Messire Des Obeaux (2021) were all successful at the age of nine.

An official rating of 147 or higher is usually required to win this race.

The highest-rated winner in recent years was Ptit Zig (157) while the lowest was Hell’s Bay (2011) on 143.

Dipper Novices Chase – Top Trainers and Jockeys

Peter Easterby trained the winner three times in the early years of the Dipper; Little Owl (1980), Jimbrook (1984) and Dawson City (1993).

Alan King equalled that tally when Messire Des Obeaux (2021) followed the victories of My Way De Solzen (2007) and Yanworth (2018).

Colin Tizzard won it with outsider Hell’s Bay (2011) and with the classy Lostinstranslation (2019).

Jockeys to win this race twice include Chris Grant and Barry Geraghty. Grant’s victories came aboard Blazing Walker (1989) and Gale Again (1992). Geraghty won it on Oscar Whisky (2014) and Yanworth (2018).

Summary of the Dipper Novices’ Chase

Thank you for reading our Dipper Novices’ Chase guide.

We have looked at previous trends, betting info, the history of the race and more, so you have all the facts you need when making a selection.

It is a great race which has thrown up many stars of the future.

There are more races in January that you might enjoy, so make sure you check them out.

Check out our Newcastle tips page if you enjoy watching races at Newcastle Racecourse.

Here are all of January’s horse racing-related posts: