The National Hunt Steeple Chase

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What You Need to Know

  1. The National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup is a National Hunt chase held on the opening day, Champion Day of the Cheltenham Festival.
  2. It’s the 146th Year of The National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup (Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Steeple Chase) the race starts Tuesday 15 March 2016 at 16:50.
  3. The race is open to horses aged five years or older and only amateur jockeys are allowed to take part.
  4. Runners race along a distance of 4 miles along the famous Old Course at Cheltenham, jumping 24 fences and competing for a prize purse of £90,000
  5. Since it's a race for novice horses and amateur jockeys, there are few repeat winners. However, recently Jonjo O'Neill has established himself as the leading trainer in the history of the race. He has saddled five winners, most recently 2007 champion Butler's Cabin.
  6. If you want to join in the excitement of betting on the race, get online and open a sports betting account. This way you get the best selection of betting markets and the most-competitive odds.
  7. Of course, if you're serious about trying to make a profit betting on the National Hunt Steeplechase, you should do your homework. Past form is key, as is a horse's stamina, so read up on both of these before putting any money down.
  8. Our tip for the race can be found on our daily horse racing tips page, along with all our Cheltenham tips, our tips are published on the day of the race.

What is the National Hunt Steeple Chase?

The Toby Balding Hunt Steeplechase (also known as the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup) is a National Hunt chase race run over the Old Course at Cheltenham.

Scheduled to take place on the afternoon of the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival (Champions Day), the race is open to horses aged five years or older and only amateur jockeys are allowed to take part. At around 4 miles in length, it is the longest race of the whole Festival and features 24 fences. The race is designed for novice chasers, with up-and-coming thoroughbreds compete for a prize pool of £90,000. 

The 2016 National Hunt Steeple Chase will be run on Tuesday 15 March 2016 at 16:50. To find out more about the rest of the day's action, check out this comprehensive guide to the 2015 Cheltenham Festival.


The 2016 National Hunt Steeplechase: This Year's Favourites

The 2016 steeplechase looks set to be one of the tightest in recent years, with a number of horses in with a shot of winning the £55,000 first prize and many more looking good to be placed.

Roi Des Francs, aged seven, looks likely to go into the race as the big favourite. He is from the Willie Mullins stable and won on his last outing in January.

An outside bet is Spookydooky with a 50% lifetime rate of finishing in the top three, so maybe worth an each way bet.


The Latest Odds and All the Runners

The odds on offer from the bookmakers can go up and down and may even fluctuate right up until the starting gun goes off. As a rough guide, here are the expected runners in consideration for the 2016 National Hunt Steeplechase, as well as the odds being offered by the bookies in the week leading up to Cheltenham:

Betting on the 2016 National Hunt Steeplechase

The opening day Steeplechase is one of the most dramatic races of the whole of the Cheltenham Festival, not least since the distance makes it the ultimate test of a novice's stamina. This makes it massively popular with fans having a flutter on the action.

If you do fancy betting on the Tony Balding Hunt Steeplechase, you can either bet at the trackside or, if you can't get to Cheltenham in person, you can place a wager online. Check out this guide to the very best sports betting sites out there today, open an account and take advantage of some incredible introductory offers for new customers.

  • There is no guaranteed way to beat the bookie, but by doing your homework, you can increase your chances of making a winning bet. Some things to bear in mind before having a gamble on this race include:
  • While the race is for novices, it's certainly not for complete beginners. All of the winners since 2014 had run at least three times over fences in competitive races before going to Cheltenham.
  • What's more, nine out of the past ten winners had won a jump race more than three miles in distance before racing to victory at Cheltenham.
  • The majority of winners tend to be seven or eight-year-old horses. Younger winners are very rare indeed.
  • Stamina is key here. Look out for horses with a strong track record of performing well over distance.


History of the National Hunt Steeplechase

The race has a rich and fascinating history. Known formally as the National hunt Chase, the race was first run in 1860 and has been run at Cheltenham almost every year since. This means the race has been run more times than any other event in the history of the Cheltenham Festival.

Right up until the 1930s, the race was the second-most important event in the whole of the National Hunt racing calendar, behind only the Grand National. Even if it isn't number two anymore, it's still a massive racing event and in 2014 it was granted Listed Status by the British Horseracing Board.

Over recent years, the race has been named in honour of key figures from the world of jump racing, including commentators, jockeys and even Queen Elizabeth II. In 2015, the race is named in honour of Tony Balding.

Over the years, the race has featured some big-name jockeys racing as amateurs before turning pro. Willie Mullins, for example, is one of several riders to have won the race twice. No jockey has managed to win it on three separate occasions.

In more recent years, Jonjo O'Neill has established himself as the leading trainer in the history of the race. He has saddled five winners, most recently 2007 champion Butler's Cabin.

Recent Winners

2002 Rith Dubh 10 J. T. McNamara Jonjo O'Neill
2003 Sudden Shock 8 Denis Cullen Jonjo O'Neill
2004 Native Emperor 8 Robert Widger Jonjo O'Neill
2005 Another Rum 7 Mark O'Hare Ian Duncan
2006 Hot Weld 7 Richard Harding Ferdy Murphy
2007 Butler's Cabin 7 Alan Berry Jonjo O'Neill
2008 Old Benny 7 Charlie Huxley Alan King
2009 Tricky Trickster 6 Sam Waley-Cohen Nigel Twiston-Davies
2010 Poker de Sivola 7 Katie Walsh Ferdy Murphy
2011 Chicago Grey 8 Derek O'Connor Gordon Elliott
2012 Teaforthree 8 J. T. McNamara Rebecca Curtis
2013 Back In Focus 8 Patrick Mullins Willie Mullins
2014 Midnight Prayer 9 Joshua Newman Alan King
2015 Cause Of Causes 7 Jamie Codd Gordon Elliott

Attending the Cheltenham Festival

The Tony Balding National Hunt Steeplechase takes place on Champions Day, the opening day of the world famous Cheltenham Festival. In 2015, it takes place on Tuesday 10 March.

If you want to be there to experience the famous Cheltenham Roar as the race gets the Festival underway, then tickets are available from Champions Day page of the Cheltenham Festival website.

Tickets range from £25 for an advanced single to £35 on the day, with more expensive options and a range of packages available. Be aware that whilst the Cheltenham Festival does not have a dress code, in some areas fancy dress is not permitted, and in the Club Enclosure it is usual for men to wear suits, and ladies to wear hats during the Festival.

Anyone who is looking to attend, should think about booking their tickets as early as possible as they get more expensive as the Festival gets closer.


How to Get to Cheltenham Racecourse

Cheltenham Racecourse is located just outside the picturesque Gloucestershire market town of Cheltenham Spa.

Trains are easily available from London (taking about two hours), Birmingham (about 35 minutes) and Bristol (35 minutes). The racecourse is a ten minute taxi journey from the station and during the festival there is a free shuttle bus in operation.

If arriving by car, the nearest motorway is the M5, with the racecourse being clearly signposted in both directions. Parking is available but there is a charge during the festival.

Buses 527 and D from Cheltenham town centre stop near the racecourse, and during the festival there is a free shuttle bus which runs from Cheltenham Spa Station and outside the WH Smith.


Further Reading


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