The Maghull Novices’ Chase is a Grade 1 steeplechase run over 1 mile, 7 furlongs and 176 yards on the Mildmay Course at Aintree in early April. As the name suggests, the race is restricted to novice steeplechasers – that is, horses that start the season without a win over regulation fences – aged five years and upwards.
The Maghull Novices’ Chase was inaugurated in 1954 and is named after the nearby town of Maghull in Sefton, Merseyside. The race was promoted from Listed to Grade 2 status in 1991 and from Grade 2 to Grade 1 status in 1995. The field typically features horses that contested the two-mile novice steeplechasing championship race at the Cheltenham Festival, the Arkle Challenge Trophy. Shiskin, for example, won both races in 2021. Looking ahead to the 2023 renewal, which is due off at 3.00pm on Grand National Day, Saturday, April 9, the likes of Jonbon and Sir Gerhard – both Grade 1-winning novice hurdlers with winning point-to-point form – may well emerge as leading contenders in due course.
It is also worth noting that reigning champion trainer Paul Nicholls is the most successful handler in the history of the Maghull Novices’ Chase with seven winners. Nicholls saddled Flagship Uberalles (1999), Armaturk (2002), Le Roi Miguel (2003), Twist Magic (2007), Tataniano (2010), San Benedeto (2017) and Diego Du Charmil (2018). Connections of Monmiral have made no secret of the fact that the 5-year-old Saint Des Saints gelding was bought to go steeplechasing and he remains one to bear in mind. Other notable winners down the years include Night Nurse (1979), Pearlyman (1986), Well Chief (2004), Sprinter Sacre (2012) and Douvan (2016), to name but a handful.