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Last Year's Winner: Sizing Tennessee
- T Scudamore
- C L Tizzard
- 11st 3lbs
- Starting Price:
- Season Form Figures:
- Previous Best:
- 2nd - Dipper Novices' Chase (Grade 2), Cheltenham (Jan 2018)
The race formerly known as the Hennessy had very much been a strong handicap for trends followers, and then came along the 10-year-old, Sizing Tennessee, last season to win by 10 lengths becoming the first winner since Diamond Edge in 1981 to win aged in double figures!
Prior to then we had to go back to Rondetto in 1967. Youth usually carries the day and back in 2014 seven of the first eight home in 2014 were aged no older than seven. Despite being a third-season chaser, Triolo D’Alene was still only six when he won the 2014 Hennessy and although Carruthers was a fourth-season chaser when he won in 2011, he was still only an eight-year-old.
As such, he was a semi-surprise 12/1 winner in not the strongest of renewals so he also overcame the market trends which now reads 27 winners of the last 34 runnings were sent off in the first four in the betting so it has not been wise to have looked too far beyond the obvious.
In victory Sizing Tennessee was giving Colin Tizzard a second Ladbrokes Trophy winner after Native River and he also supplied the runner-up in Elegant Approach for good measure taking the stable’s record in the last six years to a very impressive two wins, two seconds and a third and he now trails Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls by one winner. David Pipe is also worth noting having trained a winner and four placed horses from his 12 runners.
The Willie Mullins-trained Total Recall justified favouritism the previous season giving the Irish their first winner since 1980, though his Be My Royal passed the post in front but lost the race months later due to an illegal substance found in his sample. Given that Kemboy ended the season as the top rated chaser in Britain and Ireland, I have to think that he would have taken some beating off 157 had he not been withdrawn after being declared due to travel problems so look out for Mullins’s entries.
This has become far more of a class-act’s race recently and the last 14 winners were officially rated 145+, nine of which carried a minimum of 11st 3lb.
Sizing Tennessee was also ridden very prominently in a race run at a furious gallop and he took from four fences out. The previous two winners had made virtually all. In fact, it has now been 14 years back to Celestial Gold since a horse who was given what can be called a proper, creeping hold-up ride won. It’s very much a rhythm race and, as such, not easy to make up plenty of ground on the second circuit.
A handicap in which horses carrying no more than 11st dominated between 1985-2004 with only one winner (Suny Bay) carrying more than 11st, the second most prestigious handicap chase of the season behind the Grand National has become far more of a class-act’s race recently and the last 14 winners were officially rated 145+, nine of which carried a minimum of 11st 3lb. To further underline this notable u-turn, the top weight or joint top weight has placed at worst seven times in the last 13 years (Denman twice defied top weight) and the top weight in 2014, Houblon Des Obeaux, finished second at 50/1. Another class stat to bear in mind is that 14 of last 19 winners had registered a victory over fences at pattern or listed level (including 10 of the last 12), five of which had won a Grade 1 race over hurdles.
Two of the last six runnings went on to feature that season’s Gold Cup winner (Bobs Worth 1st and Lord Windermere 8th) and both of those subsequent Gold Cup winners had won the previous season’s RSA Chase. In fact, 13 of the last 20 winners were second-season chasers so the previous spring’s RSA Chase in which Topofthegame edged out Santini and Delta Work in what looked a high-class renewal, is usually a very good place to start. The 2010 Newbury 1-2, Diamond Harry and Burton Port, also both contested the RSA Chase earlier in their year and the 2005 and 2007 RSA Chase winners, Trabolgan and Denman, both added this race to their C.V. later in the year as did the aforementioned Bobs Worth. The 2008, 2009, 2017 and 2018 Ladbrokes Trophy runners-up also contested the RSA Chase the previous spring.
Another novice chase to note from the previous season is the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day won by La Bague Au Roi from Topofthegame and Santini as four of the last 14 Ladbrokes Trophy winners contested that prize 11 months earlier. During the late 1980s through to 2001 it was the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at the Grand National Meeting that was the second-best guide behind the RSA Chase with five winners but it had not featured the winner for a decade until Many Clouds put that right five years ago and then Native River made it two wins in three years.
The Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton was as good trial when Coome Hill and Teeton Mill both won that prize before their victories (and Kings Road was only beaten a short-head before he took top honours at Newbury) but it has not been a factor since 2000.
At a glance summary
- Second-season chasers
- The first four in the betting
- Ran in last season’s RSA Chase
- A Grade 1 winner over hurdles
- Trained by Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson, David Pipe or Colin Tizzard
- Respect contenders that contested last season’s Kauto Star Novices’ Chase or Mildmay Novices' Chase
- Aged 10+
- Obvious hold-up horses
- Officially rated under 145
- Yet to win at Pattern or Listed level over fences