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Grand Annual Handicap Chase Trends for 2024 Cheltenham Festival

Jessica Lamb for Bookies.com

Jessica Lamb  | 11 mins

Grand Annual Handicap Chase Trends for 2024 Cheltenham Festival

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2024 Grand Annual Handicap Chase Trends

Need some help finding the winner of the 2024 edition of the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase at the Cheltenham Festival? Our team of experts at Bookies.com have done the hard work for you by pinpointing the most critical trends and pointers from the last 10 renewals in order to help you find the winner of this ultra-competitive two-mile handicap when making your selections at horse racing betting sites.

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The last 10 winners:

  • Were not top weight - just one made the first four
  • Featured fourth or lower on the weights list after declarations
  • Had not run more than eight times in the last 12 months
  • Had won at least twice on a racecourse described as 'galloping'
  • Had run in either a Grade 1 or 2 race previously
  • Had won on a left-handed track
  • Had won at least one chase
  • Last ran at least 30 days ago

Nine of the last 10 winners:

  • Carried no more than 11st 6lb (exception Le Prezien, 11st 8lbs)
  • Had not won more than three chases (12-year-old Croco Bay won four)
  • Did not win last time out, though three of the last five winners did finish in the first three (winner was Chosen Mate). However, 7/10 had not even won that season.
  • Had run at least twice that season (Croco Bay)

Eight of the last 10 winners:

  • Were NOT sent off favourite on the day (seven of the last ten winners 14/1+)

Seven of the last 10 winners:

  • Had run at Cheltenham before - three winning, three running in a previous Grand Annual (Le Prezien, Croco Bay, Next Sensation)

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Key Trials in the last 10 years

Winners of this Cheltenham Festival handicap chase come from all sorts of places, and generally haven't won in that season, so there are no reliable trials to follow. This is because connections tend not to want to show their hand to the assessor.

In the last four years, the trends have altered dramatically, moving away from winners lining up at the Festival after upwards of three months off and towards them having run within the last two. The last three winners had all run in February, and the 2020 winner had last run in January. 

Handicap chases run at Cheltenham in October, November or December might be a good place to start your research. And don't forget, look back at the last Grand Annual (Croco Bay, winner in 2019, was running in the race for the fourth time), although no horse has won the race more than once since Dulwich in 1976.

Trainer Trends

  • Named after his father Johnny, Nicky Henderson loves this race. In the last 10 years he's saddled 10 runners, four placing.
  • However, Paul Nicholls is the trainer to follow – he’s won this race four times in all, more than any other trainer, including twice in the last 10 years.
  • Trainers based in Ireland have their fair share of good fortune in this race two, winning four of the last 10.

Jockey Trends

  • In true Cheltenham Festival handicap style, this isn’t a race that tends to be dominated by a small group of riders.
  • Only Kielan Woods has won the Grand Annual more than once in the last 10 years, but it does tend to go to a professional, rather than a claiming rider.

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How did the trends do last year?

Maskada was a solid trends pick with only 11st 1lb to carry, a valuable Limerick handicap win two runs back, Grade 1 form over hurdles and fences and a recent run at Leopardstown. She had recently changed stables and was improving for her new connections.

Who Fits The Trends Best In 2024?

This is a tricky event, like all Cheltenham handicaps, but applying the trends does whittle the current entries down to three key picks: Unexpected Party, Straw Fan Jack and Frere D'Armes.

This foursome ticks every trends box, with Straw Fan Jack being a course and distance winner and the lightly-raced Frere D'Armes finishing sixth on course and distance debut last time out. However, Unexpected Party could be the leading trends pick, coming from the ultra-shrewd yard of Dan Skelton, who has saddled multiple festival handicap winners.

This nine-year-old has run no fewer than four times over course and distance. Granted, he has not finished better than third in those outings, but his handicap rating is at an all-time low. He's never run in a handicap rated less than 140 and is now 138.

2023 Grand Annual Handicap Chase Result

Position Name Price Trainer Jockey
1st Maskada 22/1 Henry De Bromhead Darragh O'Keeffe
2nd Dinoblue 7/2f Willie Mullins Luke Dempsey
3rd Global Citizen 12/1 Ben Pauling Luca Morgan
4th Third Time Lucki 8/1 Dan Skelton Harry Skelton

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About the Author

Jessica Lamb is a multi-media journalist who specializes in horse racing, cycling and sports betting and has worked on desks at the Racing Post and Irish Sun newspapers.