The Ultima Chase is one of the toughest races held at the Cheltenham Festival.
The Ultima Handicap Chase, also known as the Festival Trophy, is a Grade 3 race at the Cheltenham Festival. It is over three miles and one furlong and names on the roll of honour include Grand National winners West Tip, Seagram and Rough Quest. Three horses have won the race twice, the most recent being Un Temps Pour Tout in 2016 and 2017.
Find out more about the Ultima Chase:
- 1 Ultima Handicap Chase Overview
- 2 Ultima Handicap Chase 2023 Odds
- 3 Ultima Handicap Chase Previous Winners
- 4 Famous Ultima Handicap Chase Winners
- 5 Key Ultima Handicap Chase Trials
- 6 Ultima Handicap Chase Betting Trends
- 7 Ultima Handicap Chase – Top Trainers and Jockeys
- 8 Betting on the Ultima Handicap Chase
- 9 Betting on the Ultima Chase
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- 10 Popular Questions
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Ultima Handicap Chase Overview
The Ultima Chase a Grade 3 National Hunt steeplechase run over a distance of around 3 miles and 1 furlong on the Old Course at Cheltenham, and there are twenty obstacles to jump during the race.
It’s a handicap event that takes place every year on the 1st day of the Cheltenham Festival.
It is one of the toughest handicaps of the National Hunt season.
Ultima Handicap Chase 2023 Odds
Listed below are the 2023 odds for the Ultima Handicap Chase:
- Threeunderthrufive – 12-1
- Vanillier – 14-1
- Gaillard Du Mesnil – 16-1
- Corach Rambler – 16-1
- Beacon Edge – 16-1
- Capodanno – 16-1
Ultima Handicap Chase Previous Winners
|2012||Alfie Sherrin||9||Richie McLernon||Jonjo O’Neill|
|2013||Golden Chieftain||8||Brendan Powell Jnr||Colin Tizzard|
|2014||Holywell||7||Richie McLernon||Jonjo O’Neill|
|2015||The Druids Nephew||8||Barry Geraghty||Neil Mulholland|
|2016||Un Temps Pour Tout||7||Tom Scudamore||David Pipe|
|2017||Un Temps Pour Tout||8||Tom Scudamore||David Pipe|
|2018||Coo Star Sivola||6||Lizzie Kelly||Nick Williams|
|2019||Beware The Bear||9||Jeremiah McGrath||Nicky Henderson|
|2020||The Conditional||8||Brendan Powell Jnr||David Bridgwater|
|2021||Vintage Clouds||11||Ryan Mania||Sue Smith|
|2022||Corach Rambler||8||Derek Fox||Lucinda Russell|
Famous Ultima Handicap Chase Winners
The Ultima Chase was originally called the National Hunt Handicap Chase and been through a range of sponsors since the early eighties. Ultima took over the sponsorship in 2015. The race has close ties with the Aintree Grand National with Royal Tan (1952) and Team Spirit (1963) winning both races.
1985 winner West Tip became a household name when winning the Grand National the following year. He started joint-favourite for the National after winning this race in 1985 and was travelling like the winner when falling at Bechers on the second circuit. He returned the following year to win under Richard Dunwoody. West Tip became an Aintree regular, finishing fourth in 1987 and 1988 and runner-up in 1989.
Seagram won this race by 5 lengths from Cahervillahow in 1991. He then won the Grand National, overhauling the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Garrison Savannah on the run-in. His Aintree win was also notable for carrying the colours of the race sponsor.
The most recent horse to win here and go on to win the Grand National was Rough Quest in 1995. He finished second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup before winning the 1996 Grand National for Terry Casey and Mick Fitzgerald. He was the first successful favourite in the National for fourteen years.
Other notable winners of this race include Wichita Lineman (2009) and Holywell (2014), both trained by Jonjo O’Neill. Many rated Tony McCoy’s win on Wichita Lineman as one of the greatest ever rides at the festival. Holywell won seven of his 32 races including two at the festival. He was a shock 25-1 winner of the Pertemps Final in 2013. He gained a Grade 1 victory in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree, finished fourth in the 2015 Gold Cup and runner-up in the 2016 Ultima Chase.
Key Ultima Handicap Chase Trials
Only three of the last twelve winners had been successful on their previous outing. All twelve had raced at least once at Cheltenham previously and seven of those had recorded one or more course victories. Horses that run well in this race tend to return in subsequent seasons.
Four of the last eleven winners ran in the Ultima the following year with only Un Temps Pour Tout (2016, 2017) managing a repeat victory. Alfie Sherrin (2012) finished fourth in the 2013 Kim Muir and Holywell (2014) finished fourth in the 2015 Gold Cup. Holywell was the only one of the last twelve winners to win on his next outing.
Ultima Handicap Chase Betting Trends
Coo Star Sivola (2018) is the only winning favourite in the last twelve renewals. He was trained by Nick Williams and ridden by Lizzie Kelly, returning at 5-1 favourite. Five of the remaining winners were either second or third favourite. Bensalem (2011) 5-1 and The Druids Nephew (2015) 8-1 were both second favourite.
The longest priced winners during that period were Golden Chieftain (2013) and Vintage Clouds (2021) who both returned at 28-1. Alfie Sherrin (2012) was a 14-1 chance. Eleven of the twelve winners had a rating of 132 or higher. Alfie Sherrin was the only horse to fall below that rating on 129. The highest rated winner was Un Temps Pour Tout who was rated 155 when achieving his second success in 2017.
Horses aged seven and eight have fared best in recent times, although Vintage Clouds won it as an eleven-year-old. Coo Star Sivola won as a six-year-old in 2018, the first of that age group to win since Antonin in 1994.
Ultima Handicap Chase – Top Trainers and Jockeys
The leading trainers in the history of the Ultima Handicap Chase are Fred Rimell and Fulke Walwyn who each won it four times. Jonjo O’Neill has won it three times with Wichita Lineman (2009), Alfie Sherrin (2012) and Holywell (2014). David Pipe also has a good record in this race, winning with An Accordion (2008) and twice with Un Temps Pour Tout (2016, 2017).
The leading jockeys are Robert Thornton and Tom Scudamore with three victories. Thornton’s winners were Fork Lightning (2004), Kelami (2005) and Bensalem (2011). Scudamore rode all three of David Pipe’s winners.
Betting on the Ultima Handicap Chase
Although favourites have a poor record in this race, it remains one of the most popular betting races of the Cheltenham Festival. It always attracts a large field of seasoned handicappers with plenty of each-way betting opportunities. It is a long time since the race produced a Grand National winner but the Ultima Chase form is worth following in top staying chases.
Betting on the Ultima Chase
The Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival has quite a lively ante-post market.
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What distance is the Ultima Handicap Chase?
The Ultima Handicap Chase has a total distance of 3 miles and 1 furlong.
What time does the Ultima Handicap Chase start?
The Ultima Handicap Chase starts at 14:50.
Summary of the Ultima Chase
The Ultima Handicap Chase is a tough handicap held as part of the Cheltenham Festival.
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