Lightning Novices’ Chase

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The Lightning Novices Chase is a Grade 2 race over an extended two miles at Doncaster in late January/early February. It is an important trial for the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Notable past winners include future Champion Chase winners Pearlyman (1986) and Deep Sensation (1992). Shishkin was a brilliant winner of this race in 2021 prior to winning the Arkle for Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville.

Find out more about the Lightning Novices’ Chase:

Lightning Novices’ Chase

Race Overview – the Lightning Novices Chase

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

There are twelve fences to leap during the race, which is raced at Doncaster over a distance of around 2 miles and a half furlong (2 miles and 78 yards, or 3,290 metres).

The novice chasers’ race is scheduled to take place in late January or early February each year.

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Famous Lightning Novices Chase Winners

The Lightning Novices Chase was originally staged at Ascot in 1979 with victory going to Fulke Walwyn’s Dramatist.

The following year it was won by another high-class former hurdler in Beacon Light, trained by Andy Turnell and ridden by Bob Turnell. The race was transferred to Doncaster in 2010 and has continued to produce live Festival contenders.

1986 winner Pearlyman won the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 1987 and 1988 for Trainer John Edwards. Sabin Du Loir became the oldest winner of the race when scoring at the age of ten for Martin Pipe and Peter Scudamore in 1989, 1992 winner Deep Sensation had won the valuable Tote Gold Trophy over hurdles in 1990 for Josh Gifford. He went on to prove even better over fences, winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 1993 as well as the Melling Chase at Aintree.

Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson have enjoyed great success in this race in recent times. Nicholls won it three times in a four-year period from 2001 to 2005. Henderson’s most significant winner was Shishkin in 2021, a winner of the Supreme Novices Hurdle the previous season. He went on to win the Arkle Challenge Trophy and started favourite for the 2022 Champion Chase. He suffered his first defeat over fences that day when pulled up. Tests later revealed that he has been suffering from a rare bone disorder.

Lightning Novices Chase Previous Result

Key Lightning Novices Chase Trials

The Wayward Lad Novices Chase at Kempton has proved to be the most significant trial for the Classic in recent seasons. Four of the last twelve winners ran in that race, two of them winning and two being placed.

Five of the last ten winners went on to contest the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival. Shishkin (2021) was the only one to win with the other four failing to reach a place. Shishkin was the only one of those ten to win another race in the current season.

Favourites have a strong recent record in this race, winning seven of the last ten renewals. Five of them started odds-on favourite and all of them were successful; Three Kingdoms (2015), Sceau Royal (2018), Dynamite Dollars (2019), Shishkin (2021) and Third Time Lucki (2022).

Shishkin was the shortest-priced winner in the history of the race at 1-7.

Outsiders have not had a look-in with Forest Bihan (7-2) the longest-priced winner in the last ten renewals in 2017.

It is also worth noting that the field have not exceeded five runners during that time.

Horses aged six and seven years have dominated, accounting for the last twelve winners between them.

Lightning Novices Chase – Top Trainers and Jockeys

Paul Nicholls leads the trainers stats with five, one more than old rival Nicky Henderson.

Nicholls five winners were; Exit To Wave (2001), Bal de Nuit (2004), My Will (2005), Woolcombe Folly (2010) and Dynamite Dollars (2019).

Henderson’s four winners; Kid Cassidy (2012), Vaniteux (2016), Mister Fisher (2020) and Shishkin (2021). Ruby Walsh and Tony McCoy still share the riding honours in the Lightning Novices Chase with three winners apiece.

Betting on the Lightning Novices Chase

This race has been dominated by the favourite in recent times, often attracting a rising star with the Arkle Chase in their sights. Shishkin managed to win both races but the subsequent form of the other recent winners suggests that the form should be treated with caution.

Facts about the Lightning Novices’ Chase

  • The Lightning Novices’ Chase is a National Hunt chase in Great Britain which is open to horses aged five years or older.
  • The race is run at Doncaster over a distance of 2 miles and half a furlong, and during its running, there are twelve fences to be jumped.
  • It is a Grade 2 race and it is scheduled to take place each year in late January/early February.
  • The Lightning Novices’ Chase was first to run in 1979.

Summary of the Lightning Novices’ Chase

Thank you for reading our Lightning Novices’ Chase guide.

We have looked at the race history, facts, previous winners, odds, tips and more, so you have all the information if you are placing a bet or simply enjoying watching the race.

You can find more January horse races by checking out our guide.

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