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Ultima Handicap Chase Trends for the 2024 Cheltenham Festival

Jessica Lamb for Bookies.com

Jessica Lamb  | 13 mins

Ultima Handicap Chase Trends for the 2024 Cheltenham Festival

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2024 Ultima Handicap Chase Trends

Need some help finding the winner of the 2024 edition of the Ultima Handicap Chase? Well, look no further because 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 Grade 3 chase.

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The last 10 winners:

  • Were trained in Britain.
  • Had won no more than four chases, the majority winning one or two.
  • Had tasted victory over at least three miles over hurdles or fences.
  • Had scored on a galloping track.
  • Had at least three starts in the previous 12 months; only Corach Rambler before his second win had fewer than four.
  • Had run at Cheltenham before (seven of these winners had run over fences at Prestbury Park), with six winning.
  • Finished in the first three in one of their last three starts.

Nine of the last 10 winners:

  • Had at least five starts over fences (exception Un Temps Pour Tout had three before first win)
  • Had taken part in at least one handicap chase (exception former Pertemps Final winner Holywell); four of the last five winners had won more than one handicap chase - Beware The Bear, Vintage Clouds and Corach Rambler (twice)
  • Last ran no more than 59 days ago (exception Beware The Bear).
  • Did not carry top weight. Finishing positions of last 10 topweights: 443P3107FP0; (exception Un Temps Pour Tout's second win)

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Key Trials from the last 10 years

The Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas has thrown up two places in the last 10 years. Meetingofthewaters beat Panda Boy by four-and-a-half lengths in the 2023 edition.

Beware the Bear used the Ladbrokes Trophy (now known as the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury) as his trial in 2019. In 2022, the first four were Le Milos, Remastered, Gericault Roque and Corach Rambler, with the third and fourth filling the top two spots in the 2022 Cheltenham race and Corach Rambler winning in 2023. Last year, Datsalrightgino, Mahler Mission, Monbeg Genius and Eldorado Allen were first home.

2022’s Ultima first and second, Corach Rambler and Gericault, finished fourth and second in the valuable Classic Chase at Warwick, which 2020 winner, The Conditional, was also placed in. In 2023, only one runner from the race, Threeunderthrufive, ran in the Ultima, finishing eighth, having been sixth at Warwick. In 2024, the race was dominated by mares and Grand National types.

Oddly, the Cleeve Hurdle has been seen to good effect as a trial for this race. The Cleeve Hurdle has produced two winners and two places in the last 10 years.

It's also a positive to have run in this race before or any other handicap chase at Cheltenham. Dual winner Corach Rambler had won a handicap chase at the track in December before his first win, Vintage Clouds had been second in the Cheltenham Festival race in 2019, The Conditional had won a Cheltenham handicap chase in October, Beware The Bear had won one in January, Un Temps Pour Tout won twice, and before that had finished fourth at the track, The Druids Nephew had been second in November and Golden Chieftain had been third in December.

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Trainer Trends

  • The last 17 winners were trained in Britain. Only two winners were trained by trainers based in Ireland in the past 26 renewals. It's not a kind race to the raiding party, with only seven Irish-trained horses featuring in the first four in the last 10 years.
  • With three winners each, David Pipe (also has six placed finishers) and Jonjo O'Neill (also has seven placed finishers) have the best record in the race.
  • Lucinda Russell has won the last two renewals with Corach Rambler
  • Nicky Henderson has a rather unlucky record with two winners and nine places over the last 23 years.
  • Venetia Williams (one place from 25 starts), Paul Nicholls (four places from 23 starts) and Nigel Twiston-Davies (two places from 28 starts) are all trainers who have bad records in the race over the past 21 years.

Jockey Trends

  • Derek Fox has won the last two renewals on the plucky Corach Rambler
  • Tom Scudamore is more successful than any other jockey in the race in recent times, with three winners since 2008 (all for trainer David Pipe) and five places overall, but he retired last year.
  • Richie McLernon rides the race very well, with two winners (both for Jonjo O’Neill) and three places from seven rides.

How did the trends do last year?

Winner Corach Rambler was on the trends radar before his 2022 win and again before his 2023 win, though his preparation took on a very different profile. 

He ticked every box in 2022 and again in 2023, with the exception of having only run three times in the previous 12 months, whereas the 10 winners before him had run at least four times. Considering one of those runs was winning this race, and the need for trainer Lucinda Russell to try to preserve his attractive handicap rating, that was easily forgiven. 

Second Fastorslow had not won a chase, or won over further than 2m1f, and was trained in Ireland, but he was only beaten a neck, which was a serious effort later rewarded by a Grade 1 win at Punchestown. Third Monbeg Genius and fourth The Goffer had not won over 3m before, and the latter was trained in Ireland. 

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Who Fits The Trends Best In 2024?

This is usually a wide-open affair, and ante-post lists at horse racing betting sites indicate that is likely to again be the case in March 2024.

Cheltenham novice handicap chase winner Are U Wise To That has won over more than 3m, and his latest came over course and distance last time out. It’s also a positive that he is trained by Jonjo O’Neill, who has a one of the best records. The snag is that his handicap rating is fairly low at 130, so he might not get into the race. Winners of this race tend to have handicap ratings north of 140.

January Cheltenham handicap chase winner Stumptown ticks a lot of boxes, including having been second in last year’s Kim Muir, but he is trained in Ireland. 

Two-time novice handicap chase winner Chianti Classico has good form on galloping tracks and has won a handicap chase over 2m, albeit against few rivals. The Kim Bailey-trained gelding looks unexposed.

The other stand-out on trend pick at this early stage is Midnight River, trained by Dan Skelton, who has a fantastic record in Festival handicaps. He is a Cheltenham handicap chase winner and was stepped up to 3m at the end of last season, winning at Aintree.

He has only run twice this season (four times in the last 12 months) and did fall in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury but has enticing Cheltenham form. The one issue is that he is rated 156, and that could give him topweight, which is a big negative.

2023 Ultima Handicap Chase Result

Position Name Price Trainer Jockey
1st Corach Rambler 6/1 Lucinda Russell Derek Fox
2nd Fastorslow 7/1 Martin Brassil JJ Slevin
3rd Monbeg Genius 6/1 Jonjo O'Neill Jonjo O'Neill Jr.
4th The Goffer 7/1 Gordon Elliott Davy Russell
 

2024 Ultima Handicap Chase Odds

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.