Future Champion Novices’ Chase

he Future Champion Novices’ Chase is a Grade 2 novices’ steeplechase run over 2 miles, 4 furlongs and 110 yards at Ayr in April. Open to horses aged five years and upwards who, prior to the start of the season, have yet to win over regulation fences, the race is currently scheduled for day two of the Scottish Grand National Festival.Inaugurated, over 1 mile, 7 furlongs and 112 yards, in 1968, the Future Champion Novices’ Chase assumed its current title in 1988. The race was increased to its current yardage in 1991, at which point it was promoted to Grade 1 status, only to be demoted again four years later.

Reigning champion trainer Paul or, at least, the horses in his charge appear to have enjoyed the 800 mile-plus journey from Ditcheat, Somerset to the southwest coast of Scotland. Nicholls is the leading trainer in the history of the Future Champion Novices’ Chase with seven wins, courtesy of See More Indians (1994), Valley Henry (2002), Val Solitaire (2003), Natal (2007), Pacha du Polder (2012), Le Mercurey (2016) and Secret Investor (2019). Other notable winners down the years include Night Nurse (1979) who, in 1981, came as close as any horse, before Dawn Run, to complete the Champion Hurdle – Cheltenham Gold Cup double, and Monet’s Garden (2006), who went on to win the Old Roan Chase at Aintree three times, in 2007, 2008 and 2010.

In recent years, the Future Champion Novices’ Chase has rarely attracted more than a handful of runners. The last three favourites have been successful, but it is worth noting that, in the previous seven runnings, just one market leader prevailed. Recent trends suggest that likely winners will be aged six or seven years, rated 141 or higher and possess recent, although not necessarily winning, form.

Leicester City v Liverpool

Leicester City v Liverpool  Facing relegation in a season where fans expected to be competing for European positions, Leicester City are in real trouble. The arrival of a Liverpool side they have enjoyed some good results against in recent times, though, could be just what they need. Liverpool have failed to rise to the occasion against relegation threatened teams all year, and know they need to win to keep up the UEFA Champions League push.

Leicester City News

The Foxes will be without a few key players, with James Justin and Kelechi Iheanacho unlikely to play. Ryan Bertrand could come back into contention, having missed the entirety of the season so far. Outside of that, only Jannik Vestergaard is missing. The Foxes have finally seen some clear-up on the injury front, and not before time.

Liverpool News

Liverpool are missing the usual suspects of Thiago, Nab Keita, and Roberto Firmino. Young duo Calvin Ramsey and Stefan Bajcetic look certain to miss out, too. The Reds are expected to have much the same team that won out last time fit, though, so they should not have too many selection issues when it comes to retaining the consistency that has seen them somehow spring back into top four contention.


Liverpool to win, but it will be an exciting game. Leicester have had little issue scoring goals, but it is the defensive side of the goal where they lack so badly. Expect plenty of goals, especially as Liverpool have a habit of being quite porous themselves.

Score Prediction: 2-3

Desert Orchid Chase

The Desert Orchid Chase is a Grade 2 steeplechase run over 2 miles at Kempton Park on day two of the Labrokes Christmas Festival, which is staged annually on December 26 and December 27. Open to horses aged four years and upwards, the race was inaugurated in 2006 and is named after Desert Orchid, a legendary racehorse who died in November that year at the age of 27.

Trained by David Elsworth, Desert Orchid won a total of 34 races, including the traditional Boxing Day highlight at Kempton, the King George VI Chase, four times in five years between 1986 and 1990. A life-sized bronze statue of the popular grey was unveiled at the Sunbury-on-Thames track in 1991 and, following his death, his ashes were buried nearby. Over three decades after he ran his last race, Desert Orchid remains the sixth highest-rated steeplechaser of the Timeform era, which began in the early Sixties, as far as National Hunt racing is concerned.

In its relatively short history, the Desert Orchid Chase has thrown up several subsequent winners of the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival the following March. Voy Por Ustedes, Finian’s Rainbow, Sire De Grugy, Sprinter Sacre and Altior all completed the double in the same season.

The 2022 winner of the Desert Orchid Chase, Editeur Du Gite, benefitted from the fifth fence fall of odds-on favourite Edwardstown when successful at Kempton, but accounted for that rival again, albeit by just a head, in the rescheduled Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham a month later. The Clarence House field also included the reigning champion chaser, Energumene, who ruined his chance with a final-fence blunder, but may not have won in any case; at the time of writing, Editeur Du Gite is a top-priced 6/1 (from 25/1) for the 2023 Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Celebration Chase

The Celebration Chase is a Grade 1 steeplechase run over 1 mile, 7 furlongs and 119 yards at Sandown Park in early April. Open to horses aged five years and upwards, the race was inaugurated, as the Championship Chase, in 2001, when it served as a substitute for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, following the abandonment of the Cheltenham Festival due to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. The inaugural running was won, fittingly, by reigning Champion Chaser Edredon Bleu.

Following the death of the Queen Mother in March, 2002, the race – albeit downgraded to a Class 2, weight-for-age conditions contest – was run as the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Celebration Chase and retained that title until 2005. At that stage, the Celebration Chase was promoted to Grade 2 status; it was promoted again, to Grade 1 status, in 2014.

The prolific Altior, trained by Nicky Henderson, won the Celebration Chase three years running, in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and is the most successful horse in the history of the race. Henderson has saddled five winners altogether, but Paul Nicholls is the leading trainer with seven winners, namely Cenkos (2002, 2004), Andreas (2008), Twist Magic (2009), Sanctuaire (2012) and Greaneteen (2021,2022).

The 2023 renewal of the Celebration Chase is scheduled for Saturday, April 29 and, as is often the case, the ante-post betting is likely to be dominated by horses towards the forefront of the market for the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Energumene, Shiskin and Ferny Hollow appear likely contenders at this still early stage, while the hat-trick seeking Greaneteen may attempt to improve Paul Nicholls’ a;ready impressive record in the race.