The Manifesto Novices’ Chase is a Grade 1 steeplechase run over 2 miles, 3 furlongs and 200 yards on the Mildmay Course at Aintree in early April. As the name suggests, the race is restricted to novice steeplechasers, aged five years and upwards, and is currently scheduled as the first race on the opening day of the three-day Grand National Festival.
The Manifesto Novices’ Chase commemorates Manifesto, who was one of the best, if not the best, Grand National performers of all time. Between 1895 and 1904, Manifesto contested the celebrated steeplechase a record eight times, winning twice, in 1897 and 1899, and finishing in the first four in 1900, 1902, 1903 and 1904; his victory, under 12st 7lb, in 1899 equalled the weight-carrying record for the Grand National.
The Manifesto Novices’ Chase was inaugurated, as a Grade 2 contest, in 2009, before being promoted to Grade 1 status three years later. In its relatively short history, Nicky Henderson and Philip Hobbs have won the race twice apiece and are, jointly, the most successful trainers in its history. The race often features horses that contested the Arkle Challenge Trophy or the Turners Novices’ Chase so, looking ahead to the 2023 renewal – due off at 1.45pm on Thursday, April 7 – those that feature prominently in the ante-post betting for either race merit close consideration.
At this still early stage, the likes of Jonbon (who is trained by Nicky Henderson), Sir Gerhard and El Fabiolo all have the potential to become top-class novice steeplechasers, but the pecking order in the division will, no doubt, become clearer as the National Hunt season unfolds. Reigning champion trainer Paul Nicholls has already gone on the record as being ‘really strong with our novice chasers’, so keep an eye on the likes of Gelino Bello, Monmiral and McFabulous, to name but three.