Last Year's Winner: Frodon
- Sam Twiston-Davies
- Paul Nicholls
- 10st 10lb
- Starting Price:
- Season Form Figures:
- Previous Best:
- 1st - Rising Stars Novices' Chase (Grade 2), Wincanton (November 2016)
A fantastic handicap for punters as 26 of the last 31 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 23 winners were placed at worst on their most recent outing as these stats usually go hand in hand.
Five of the last 12 winners posted a top-five finish in the BetVictor Gold Cup (formerly the Paddy Power Gold Cup) and last season’s winner and novice, Frodon, also contested that prize a month earlier but could only finish tenth. 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. 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 two years ago.
A fantastic handicap for punters as 26 of the last 31 winners could be found in the first four in the betting though, surprisingly given that stat, just one favourite has won since 1996.
Younger horses have dominated of late, in fact there has been no winner aged over eight since 1993 and novices have won three of the last five runnings via Unioniste, Double Ross and Frodon, two of which were Paul Nicholls-trained, French-bred four-year-olds. 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 two years ago and they were the only two to be pulled up.
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.
As with the BetVictor Gold Cup, the major southern yards have proven very hard to beat here winning 15 of the last 17 renewals with Paul Nicholls successful on four occasions and Nicky Henderson taking the prize three times, all with second-season chasers. 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 nine of the last 15 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