Interesting watching the BetBright
preview on YouTube with Paul Kealy and Dave Jennings of the Racing Post and Kealy made a great point about this race in that over the last ten years it's had 60+ none completions compared to less than half that combined in the other two novice events. The main point was that in some of the races building up to this we get small fields and they play cat and mouse for a couple of miles and then sprint for home whereas when you actually get to this race it's usually a decent sized field and thye go like the clappers so you have to be a true stayer and it might be better to consider horses with plenty of racing experience. The horse he mentioned as possibly fitting that type of profile was Calett Mad for Nigel Twiston-Davies, a horse that has been chasing and ran in the NH Chase at last years festival.
So, let's have a look at recent winners:
Penhill - 4 seasonal runs but significant break (78 days) before the festival although had also run in the summer. 17 career flat runs, 7 NH runs previous.
Unowhatimeanharry - 4 runs between Nov - Feb. 17 previous career runs.
Martello Tower - 4 runs between Nov - Jan. 9 previous career runs.
Very Wood - 4 runs between Nov - Jan, 68 day break before win. 5 previous runs under rules and 2 PTP runs.
At Fishers Cross - 4 runs between Nov - Jan. 8 previous career runs.
Brindisi Breeze - 4 runs between Nov - Feb. 4 previous career rules runs and 2 PTP.
Bobs Worth - 3 runs between Nov - Jan. 5 previous career runs.
I've not gone further back but may do to see how it trends. Basically the last couple of winners do seem to fall into the category Kealy was aiming at but prior to that not so much and some of the previous winners were extremely inexperienced although in the case of Bobs Worth he proved to be a Festival lover following up with an RSA and Gold Cup whilst Brindisi Breeze died in a tragic accident and we never got to see what he could do. Having four 3-4 seasonal runs does seem to be a feature though.