* 2022 winner Stattler was the second horse since 1990 and the first since 1999 to win having had less than two runs over fences.
The are no standout trials for the National Hunt Novices' Chase, mainly due to it being such a long race at 3m6f. However, it pays to follow Grade 3 novices chases run over 2m4f-3m in January and February.
Look for horses in those races that did not win, but were placed or ran well. 2019 winner Le Breuil, for example, finished fourth in the Grade 2 Altcar Novices' Chase over 2m4f at Haydock, on his last run before Cheltenham Festival success, and Minella Rocco was second in the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot before his victory in 2016.
The 2022 winner Stattler won a 3m1f Grade 3 novice chase at Naas on his last run before Cheltenham. The third that day, Vanillier, filled the same position at Cheltenham. He had previously been third in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown, where Cheltenham second Run Wild Fred had been runner-up.
Four placed horses have come from the Grade 2 Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan, so that's one to keep a keen eye on and it's worth noting only four of the last 12 winners had previously won a Graded race, while only four of the last 10 winners won their last outing.
This race is restricted to amateur riders and those based in Ireland have won 11 of the last 12 renewals. Patrick Mullins has now joined Jamie CoddIn 2021, COVID-19 restrictions on travel by amateur sports people meant that amateur riders did not take part in the Cheltenham Festival.
The fact Stattler had only had two runs over fences, marked him out on trends. To win he bucked a National Hunt trend that has been firmly adhered to since 1999. He was a guaranteed stayer, and came from a strong stable, with a strong jockey booking, but was overlooked as lacking the experience traditionally needed.
With the race dropping from 4m to 3m6f in recent years, there's every chance this is an emerging trend to watch. The fact he was the second successive winner to have won his last race, after six years of this not happening is also worth noting. The stronger fit to the trends was second Run Wild Fred, who came from the race's leading stable, was a proven stayer, and had run numerous times over fences, though importantly had only one once.
The profile of this race is changing with the reduction in distance and as such a classier novice chaser now tends to be the winner. From the top stables of Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott, two Grade 1 winners currently top the trends picks for this race in Galliard Du Mesnil and Chemical Energy.
But the latter's stablemates Frontal Assault and Gerri Colombe are also intriguing. The Jonathan Sweeney-trained Churchstonewarrior is also a very solid trends selection for the National Hunt Chase.
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