Last Year's Winner: Village Vic
- R Johnson
- P J Hobbs
- 10st 0lb
- Starting Price:
- Season Form Figures:
- Previous Best:
- 1st - Handicap Chase, Musselburgh (Nov 2015)
A fantastic handicap for punters as 26 of the last 30 winners could be found in the first four in the betting though, surprisingly given that stat, just one favourite has won since 1996 so it is no shock to note that 19 of the last 22 winners were placed at worst on their most recent outing as these stats usually go hand in hand.
The quality of horse winning this race has certainly increased in recent seasons with winners rated 149, 150, 151, 163, 145 and 143 winning between 2007 and 2012. Compare that to between 1998 and 2005 where no winner was rated any higher than 143, though the last two winners were rated 133, 142 and 136. Novices have won two of the last four runnings via Unioniste and Double Ross.
Like so many of Cheltenham’s leading handicap chases, previous win-or-placed form at the course has been an important factor. Only the Irish-trained Go Roger Go and Niceonefrankie, in a race that fell apart from half-way, have bucked this trend since 1992 so make your first port of call a horse that has proven it can handle Cheltenham's undulations.
Five of the last 11 winners posted a top-five finish in what is now the BetVictor Gold Cup (formerly the Paddy Power Gold Cup). Not unsurprisingly this valuable handicap attracts many of the principals that contested the BetVictor Gold Cup being run over the same track (albeit this time on the New Course) over a trip only half a furlong longer in distance and three horses (Pegwell Bay, Senor El Betrutti and Exotic Dancer) have completed the double in the same season.
A fantastic handicap for punters as 26 of the last 30 winners could be found in the first four in the betting though, surprisingly given that stat, just one favourite has won since 1996 .
Five other horses have won both races but in different seasons since 1983. The 2004 winner, Monkerhostin, had finished third in the BetVictor Gold Cup the previous month therefore becoming the first Caspian Caviar Gold Cup winner to improve on a place position in the BetVictor during the same season since Addington Boy (also third) in 1996.
Since then, Poquelin and Quantitativeeasing have also placed in the BetVictor (both finished second) before winning this handicap. Walkon and Colour Squadron finished placed in both races in 2012 and 2013 respectively and Buywise finished second and fourth in both races last season.
Younger horses have dominated of late. Super-young four years ago as it transpired as Unioniste won at the tender age of just four. In fact, there has been no winner aged ten or more since 1974 and only two have made the frame in over 20 years so they can confidently be overlooked.
Only two horses were aged over eight last year and they were the only two to be pulled up. That said, there has been no winner aged over eight since 1993.
As with the BetVictor Gold Cup, the major southern yards have proven very hard to beat here winning 14 of the last 16 renewals with Nicky Henderson (all with second-season chasers) and Paul Nicholls claiming three runnings apiece.
The other two runnings were won by Ireland who won the very first three runnings including with Flyingbolt under 12st 6lb but Arkle was beaten here in 1964. Mind you, he was carrying 12st 10lb and was turned out just a week after winning the Hennessy!
French-breds have a tremendous record in chase races up to and including 2m5f at the Cheltenham Festival (notably the Plate which is the equivalent race at that meeting) and it doesn’t end there as they have won eight of the last 14 runnings of this 2m5f handicap chase.
At a glance summary
- The front four in the betting
- A top-five finish in the BetVictor Gold Cup
- Horses officially rated 145+
- Trained by a powerful Southern-based stable (notably Nicky Henderson or Paul Nicholls)
- Yet to post a win-or-placed effort at Cheltenham
- Aged 9+
- Unplaced on most recent start
- Aged 9+