This is a Grade 2 Grand National Hunt held annually in April at Ayr Racecourse. It is a novices Chase that gives thoroughbreds, that haven't yet won a race for the season, a chance to shine. Established in 1968, the Future Champion Novices Chase is a popular event on the Scottish calendar.
The Future Champion Novices' Chase is a Grade 2 National Hunt Race held annually in April at Ayr Racecourse in Scotland. It is held over the gruelling distance of 2 miles and 4 furlongs - with 17 fences to be negotiated along the way. The course itself is left-handed.
This chase is open to horses aged five or older. It is limited to 'novices', meaning horses which have not yet recorded a victory in the current season. A weight requirement of 11st-7lbs applies to males 11 stones applies to females. Lower class horses may carry slightly less.
location: Ayr Racecourse
grade: Grade 2
race type: Steeple Chase
The race was introduced to the Scottish racing calendar in April of 1968. As part of the same race card as the Scottish Grand National, the Future Champion Novices' Stakes is one of the most popular fixtures hosted at Ayr together with the AyrGold Cup. Although it is currently classified as a Grade 2 event, it enjoyed a brief moment of Grade 1 glory between 1991 and 1995. Currently back to its Grade 2 status, the Future Champion Novices' Stakes awards a purse of £45,000 with £25,978 of it going to the winning horse as of 2017.
Since the inaugural running in 1968, no horse has won the event more than once (as of 2017).
Jockey Jonjo O'Neill is the joint record holder with Ron Barry for most successful rider with three wins each. O'Neill won in 1977, 1978 and 1979. Barry recorded his victories in 1973, 1975, and 1981.
The most successful trainer is currently Gordon Richards who won on five occasions from 1976 to 1996.
Only two Future Champion Novices' Chase winners have also claimed a Scottish Grand National victory. The first was Gingembre who won the Novices' Chase in 2000 and the Grand in 2001. Grey Abbey won the 2001 Novices' Chase, then claimed a Grand National victory in 2004.
Despite being a novices chase open to Class 1 through Class 3 chasers, some winners are top quality horses with strong careers (as of 2017).
The 2001 winner Grey Abbey is certainly one of the highest rated chasers of the past two decades to compete in this event. With favourable odds of 11/4, he won by a decisive five lengths ahead of runner-up Hugo De Grez.
2/7 favourite Monet's Garden won the 2006 event by four lengths. He was one of the highest rated competitors in recent history with a career record of 17 wins from 32 starts and chase event record of 11 wins from 22 starts. His total career earnings of £683,000 sets him apart from the other notable competitors listed above.