Grand Annual Chase

The Grand Annual Chase is a Grade 3 handicap over two miles at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

It is the oldest surviving chase in the National Hunt calendar having first been held in 1834. The name of Johnny Henderson, the father of trainer Nicky, was added to the title in 2005 to honour his efforts in helping to safeguard the future of the racecourse from property developers in the 1960’s.

Notable winners of the Grand Annual include dual Champion Chaser Pearlyman (1986) and Champion Chase and King George VI Chase winner Edredon Bleu (1998). There have only been two winning favourites in the past twelve seasons; Alderwood (2013) and Chosen Mate (2020). There have been plenty of shock results including 66-1 Croco Bay in 2019 and 40-1 Oiseau De Nuit (2011).

Find out more about the Grand Annual Chase:

Grand Annunal Chase

Grand Annual Chase Race Overview

The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase is open to horses aged five and over and is run over a distance of around 2 miles on the Old Course at Cheltenham, and there are fourteen obstacles to jump during the race.

The Grade 3 National Hunt steeplechase is a handicap event that takes place on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival in March each year.

Famous Grand Annual Chase Winners & History

The original Grand Annual was staged over three miles of open country at Andoversford near Cheltenham. It was discontinued in the 1860’s and revived at the turn of the century, although not returning to Cheltenham until 1913.

There have only been two dual winners of the race; Top Twenty (1958, 1959) and Dulwich (1974, 1976).

Top Twenty carried 12st 6lbs to victory when ridden by Fred Winter for his second victory.

There were two notable weight-carrying performances in 1979 and 1980 when Casbah and Stopped defied 11st 13lbs and 11st 12lbs respectively. Only My Young Man (11st 10lbs in 1992) has won with such a welter burden since.

1986 winner Pearlyman would go on to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 1987 and 1988. 1998 winner Edredon Bleu would also go on to win at Grade 1 level, winning the Champion Chase in 2000 and the King George VI Chase in 2003.

Nicky Henderson loves to have a runner in the Grand Annual for obvious reasons. He won it for the first time with Greenhope in 2006 and struck again with Bellvano in 2012. The latter was given a masterful ride by Paul Carberry, biding his time at the back of the field before cruising up to the leaders and only being pushed out inside the final 75 yards.

Croco Bay was running in the Grand Annual for the fourth time when springing a 66-1 surprise in 2019. His best previous effort had been when finishing third in 2015 but he rolled back the years to win as a twelve-year-old.

Grand Annual Chase 2023 Odds

The 2023 odds for the Grand Annual Chase have not yet been released.

Grand Annual Chase Previous Winners

Year Winner Age Jockey Trainer
2021 Bellvano 8 Paul Carberry Nicky Henderson
2022 Alderwood 9 Tony McCoy Thomas Mullins
2014 Savello 8 Davy Russell Tony Martin
2015 Next Sensation 8 Tom Scudamore Michael Scudamore, Jr.
2016 Solar Impulse 6 Sam Twiston-Davies Paul Nicholls
2017 Rock the World 9 Robbie Power Jessica Harrington
2018 Le Prezien 7 Barry Geraghty Paul Nicholls
2019 Croco Bay 12 Kielan Woods Ben Case
2020 Chosen Mate 7 Davy Russell Gordon Elliott
2021 Sky Pirate 8 Nick Scholfield Jonjo O’Neill
2022 Global Citizen 10 Kielan Woods Ben Pauling

Key Grand Annual Chase Trials

It is impossible to identify any single race as a significant trial for the Grand Annual with winners coming from a wide variety of courses and races. However, previous form at Cheltenham is a factor with six of the last twelve winners having already won at the track.

All but two of the last twelve winners had experience over Cheltenham’s fences.

Big early-season handicaps like the Paddy Power Gold Cup can be influential. Sky Pirate had caught the eye in that two and a half mile race and had even run well in the three and a quarter-mile Kim Muir at the previous Cheltenham Festival. Proven handicappers who can travel well in the hustle and bustle of big fields generally do better than those with little experience.

Grand Annual Chase – Top Trainers and Jockeys

Paul Nicholls is the most successful trainer in the history of the Grand Annual Chase with four winners; St Pirran (2004), Andreas (2007), Solar Impulse (2016) and Le Prezien (2018).

Jessica Harrington has trained the winner on two occasions, although there was a big gap between Space Trucker (1999) and Rock The World (2017).

Graham Bradley remains the most successful jockey with four winners; Pearlyman (1986), My Young Man (1992), Sound Reveille (1995) and Uncle Ernie (1997).

Davy Russell has three victories to his credit in the last 14 years. He won on Tiger City for Arthur Moore in 2008, Savello for Tony Martin in 2014 and the well-backed Chosen Mate for Gordon Elliott in 2020.

What are the betting trends for the Grand Annual Handicap Chase

Grand Annual Chase Betting Trends

Croco Boy (2019) was the biggest-priced winner in the last twenty years at 66-1 in a race that has proved tricky for punters.

Only three favourites have managed to prevail during the same period and only Alderwood (7-2 favourite in 2013), Le Prezien (15-2 second favourite in 2018) and Chosen Mate (7-2 favourite in 2020) have returned in single figures in the past twelve seasons.

Oiseau De Nuit was another “skinner” for the bookmakers at 40-1 in 2011, trained by Colin Tizzard. Solar Impulse was a 28-1 winner for Paul Nicholls in 2016 and Nicky Henderson’s Bellvano won at 20-1 in 2012.

It is not always the presumed stable number one from the big yards that comes out on top in this very competitive handicap. The average SP of the first horse in the Grand Annual Chase over the past twelve seasons has been 20-1 which tells you all that you need to know about finding the winner!


Betting on the Grand Annual Chase

The Grand Annual Handicap Chase is one of the most competitive races at the Cheltenham Festival.

The ante-post market fluctuates quite wildly as the race is always heavily over-subscribed and many fancied runners do not make the final cut.

With bookmakers now offering “non-runner – no bet” on all Cheltenham Festival races from the end of January, betting on the Grand Annual Chase has become a more attractive proposition. You should also look out for enhanced each-way terms on the Grand Annual with bookmakers sometimes paying out down to fifth or even sixth place.

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Summary  Grand Annual Chase

The Grand Annual is one of the most tricky handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival.

A history of big priced winners succeeding means stakes should be kept to a minimum.

Although not necessarily a great betting race it offers all the thrills of the Cheltenham Festival.

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