The National Hunt Challenge Cup is a Grade 2 Novices’ Chase for Amateur Riders, ran over a marathon 4m trip. The race is run on day one of the Cheltenham Festival. Last year I tipped up Tiger Roll, who went on to easily beat Missed Approach and complete an unusual Festival double having previously won the Triumph Hurdle.
16:50 – Grade 2 National Hunt Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase
Gordon Elliot has won the ‘four-miler’ on three occasions, all coming in the last seven renewals. Cheltenham Festival hero Cause Of Causes scored in the 2015 running of this race, and shows the type of horse needed to win this stamina test. It is the other two winners in Chicago Grey (2011) and Tiger Roll (2017) that could give us a pointer to the 2018 winner, as both horses embarked on similar campaigns before winning the longest race at the Cheltenham Festival. They both started running throughout the summer, with Tiger Roll winning three chases (Including the Munster National), and Chicago Grey winning two chases. They both then headed to the exact same 3m Novices’ Chase at the October Cheltenham meeting, where Chicago Grey won, and Tiger Roll finished third. This path has been used by another one of Gordon Elliot’s horses this year, in the form of Fagan.
Fagan started his career under rules by finishing third in a National Hunt Flat Race, before returning to the point-to-point scene where he won three times before moving to Gordon Elliot. After winning two bumpers and a Novice Hurdle over 2m, Fagan was immediately stepped up to 3m where he finished second to O O Seven at Musselburgh. His next start came in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle (2016), where he stayed on strongly to finish second to the classy Unowhatimeanharry. Not only was this a fantastic result, but this Cheltenham Festival experience is invaluable. Fagan tried to make his Chase debut at Fairyhouse in January 2017, but was pulled up after a long absence. The Ronnie Bartlett owned eight-year-old returned to Perth in the summer where he made amends and get off the mark over fences, having Beat That well beaten before he fell at the last. He returned to the track in September, finishing an extremely close second to Ballyandy over a trip too short. After showing his ability to jump a fence well, Fagan headed to Cheltenham for the infamous 3m Novices’ Chase as a well fancied favourite. Although only managing second on the day, Black Corton has turned out to be a leading RSA contender, including winning the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase. Whilst Tiger Roll and Chicago Grey did have one last run before going to the four-miler, both horses had a long break (which is what our selection has) and this strategy definitely seems to work for Gordon Elliot.
“He holds two Festival entries; in the RSA Chase and the National Hunt Chase, our preference for him would be for the latter.”
– Gordon Elliot
With Gordon Elliot confirming his ambition to run this dour stayer in the race he has been aimed at, Fagan looks a great price. His previous Cheltenham Festival experience is invaluable, and as his trainer has a host of Amateur riders at his disposal, our selection should have a great jockey booked. His price is the same NRNB as without this concession, but pick a bookie offering Best Odds Guaranteed.
Back Fagan to Win the National Hunt Chase @ 14/1 NRNB