By Noel Michaels
When looking down the list of tournaments still remaining on the NHC Tour schedule from now until the 2020 National Horseplayers Championship [NHC], two words begin to show up more and more as you read down the schedule . . . “Last Chance.” If you are one of the many handicappers still seeking a spot in the upcoming NHC, these last chance tournaments bolster your chances of securing a last-minute berth into the NHC, while at the same time also conveying a sense of urgency that time is running out for you to get that first (or second) entry into the “big dance.”
The good news is that while there are now less than 40 days remaining until the NHC, which kicks off on Friday, February 7 at Bally’s Las Vegas, there are still roughly 100 Championship seats still left to be won on an NHC Tour contest schedule that continues onward through the beginning of February. Many of those remaining contests are “Last Chance” events, or “Super Qualifiers,” offering several qualifying berths and good value to NHC hopefuls in both on track and online formats.
All of January’s NHC tournament action will be in addition to the actual last chance to qualify – the annual NHC Last Chance/First Chance contest on the eve of the NHC main event, which this year will be held on Thursday, February 6 at Bally’s. The NTRA just announced that they’ve added 10 guaranteed NHC entries to the Last Chance/First Chance prize structure, in addition to three guaranteed berths into the 2021 NHC finals. Those total of 13 spots are guaranteed for up to the first 240 Last Chance entries, and one more qualifying spot will be added for every 20 entries beyond 240. The Last Chance/First Chance contest will cost $500 to enter, and will offer 2020 on-track NHC Tour Points in addition to its multiple qualifying berths.
Even this late on the calendar, there are still multiple online and on-track contests left on the schedule that will be offering at least one qualifying berth into this upcoming NHC main event. That’s an all-time record for tournament opportunities still remaining at this late date on the calendar. In addition to the online qualifying contests still remaining on the schedule, ranging in price from a mere $75 to $1,000, to the Pegasus World Cup Online Betting Championship with its $6,000 buy-in, there are also several on track tournaments still remaining, including the Bally’s Last Chance/First Chance.
Check the NHC Contest schedule for the remaining contest schedule.
Aside from those on-site contests, so many good online qualifying chances still remain for 2020’s NHC. In addition to the rich Pegasus Betting Championship mentioned above, Xpressbet will also host the Last Chance Pegasus and NHC Player’s Choice contest with two spots available on January 5, and the Santa Anita NHC Super Qualifier on January 4, which will reward one qualifying berth for either 2020 or 2021 per every 15 entries into the contest. Both of these contests can also be played on-track live at Santa Anita.
Horseplayers.com still has an extensive line-up of remaining online qualifying contests available starting at just a $75 entry fee (on Friday, January 3 and Friday, January 10). Among the most interesting of the Horseplayers.com tournaments still to come are those hosted on January 5, January 12, January 18, January 25, and February 1, which are also restricted to players who have not yet earned one 2020 NHC qualifying entry. Those contests will range in price from $100 to $500 entry fees.
Finally, if you are one of the players still yet-to-qualify, but have racked-up a significant number of NHC Tour points and are hoping to earn an NHC berth based on points, you might want to circle the date of Saturday, January 18 on your calendar. The $100 tournament on Horseplayers.com on January 18 officially will be the last tournament of the season to offer 2019 NHC Tour points. In addition to those all-important tour points, five qualifying seats to the 2020 NHC will be guaranteed in that contest.