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Tuesday 17 October 2023

Mildmay Novices' Chase

The Mildmay Novices' Chase is a Grade 1 novices' steeplechase run over 3 miles and 210 yards on the Mildmay Course at Aintree in early April. As the title indicates, the race is restricted to horses, aged five years and upwards, who, at the start of the current season, have yet to win a race over regulation fences. Both the race and the course on which it is run are named after Anthony Anthony Bingham Mildmay, second Lord Mildmay of Flete, a popular amateur jockey, who rode in – and came agonisingly close to winning – the Grand National either side of the Second World War.

The Mildmay Novices' Chase was inaugurated in 1981 and boasts an impressive roll of honour, which includes future Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Bregawn, Burrough Hill Lad and Native River and future Grand National winners Rhyme 'N' Reason and Royal Athlete. The race was awarded Grade 2 status following the revision of the National Hunt Pattern in 1989 and upgraded to Grade 1 status in 2014.

The Mildmay Novices' Chase often features horses that previously contested the three-mile novice steeplechasing 'championship' at the Cheltenham Festival, the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase. The last horse to complete the double was Might Bite in 2017. Nicky Henderson, trainer of Might Bite, also saddled Sparkling Flame (1991), Irish Hussar (2003), Burton Port (2010), Terrefort (2018) and Chantry House (2021) for a total of six winners and is the most successful handler in the history of the Mildmay Novices' Chase.

The 2023 renewal of the Mildmay Novices' Chase is scheduled for 2.50pm on Friday, April 15 – the second day of the Grand National Festival, a.k.a. Ladies' Day – and, at this still early stage, it is hard to look far beyond the likes of The Nice Guy and Minella Cocooner, who feature prominently in the ante-post betting for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase.