• Sam Vestey National Hunt Chase

    The 161st Year of National Hunt Steeplechase Challenge Cup


    Only two winners this century younger than 7 yrs.

    Ten of the last 11 had contested a Graded Chase

    Nine of the last 11 were sent chasing by 31st Oct.

    Since becoming Grade 2 in 2017, no winner with less than 5 previous chase runs.

    Ravenhill is the only winner in 31 races to have fallen last time out.

    22 from last 24 placed 1st or 2nd in a chase over at least 3 miles
    Last eight winners already BHA rated at least 142

    10 of the last 21 had already run in a handicap, 5 won, 5 placed.

    No winner this century was a beaten favourite last time out

    Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls yet to win

    W Mullins/G Elliott have won six from the last ten

    Mssrs Codd, Mullins and O'Connor have ridden seven of the last ten between them.

    The favourite hasn't won since 2013.


    First raced in 1860, this has been run more times at the Cheltenham Festival than any other event. The Grand Annual is older but was missing for much of the late 19th Century.


    2020 Changes - Race Distance down to 3m 6f, only 23 fences not 25. Horses must be rated at least 120 and have finished in the first four in a three-mile chase. Jockeys must have had 20 rides and at least 5 winners. Derek O'Connor said that the changes were 'pretty fair.' His opinion is good enough for me.


    Winner and placed to be aged 6 to 10 years. If tried, should have been 1st or 2nd in a chase over at least 3 miles. Ran in a chase by 31st October or has won a p2p. Should have won a chase this season or is a second season novice. Will have been first or second in either of its last two runs or have solid Festival form. At least 5th last time completion. Will have run at least four times over fences, or have won a G1 chase. Don't be fearful if your novice has run in 10+chases. Will have finished 1st or 2nd in nothing shorter than a 2m 4f hurdle or have high-class 2m hurdle form. If given a hurdle RPR, it is above 119. If previously tried in a handicap chase company, has been placed. If ran here, has been placed here. Doesn't have to have raced here before. Winner rated 142+. Likely to have contested at least a G2 Chase or a Grade A handicap chase. Irish trained well outperform their numbers. Respect G Elliott and W Mullins. D Pipe can be placed in this race, Nicholls and Henderson stables have had difficulty here. Nicholls runners tend to be too short in price. Could be any price and ridden by top Irish amateur. Favourite due. Headgear possible. Not beaten favourite last time. Check Newbury and Warwick Nov Chase form. More than likely that the winner of one of the next Ladbroke Trophy, Irish, Scottish or Welsh Nationals is in the field but doesn't win this. Check Ten Up form from Navan and The Reynoldstown. Watch for a mare with Listed winning chase form not just against their own sex.


    Listed status 2014. Grade 2 since 2017.

  • Honours Board

    Year||| Form||| Winner||| Age||| OR||| SP |||Trainer||| Jockey||| Runners |||Last race (No of days)

    2020||| 312152F||| Ravenhill||| 10 |||142||| 12/1||| G Elliott(IRE)||| Mr JJ Codd||| 14||| FELL Navan Troytown 3m (107)

    2019||| 12324||| Le Breuil ||| 7||| 145||| 14/1 |||B Pauling||| Mr JJ Codd |||18 |||4th G2 Haydock Nov 2m 4f (52)

    2018 |||112BU||| Rathvinden||| 10||| 150||| 9/2||| W Mullins(IRE)||| Mr PW Mullins |||16||| UR Leop G1 Flogas 2m 5f (37)

    2017||| U222133||| Tiger Roll |||7||| 152 |||16/1 |||G Elliott(IRE) |||Miss L O'Neill |||18||| 3rd Wexford Lstd 2m 7f (134)

    2016||| 3P62||| Minella Rocco||| 6 |||143 |||8/1 |||JJ O'Neill |||Mr D O'Connor |||20 |||2nd Ascot Reynoldstown 3m (24)

    2015||| 75||| Cause Of Causes||| 7 |||146||| 8/1 |||G Elliott(IRE)||| Mr JJ Codd |||17 |||5th G2 Galmoy Hdle 3m (47)

    2014||| 61U21 |||Midnight Prayer |||9 |||139 |||8/1 |||A King||| Mr J Newman |||15||| 1st Wrawick Nov 3m 2f (31)

    2013 |||2111 |||Back In Focus||| 8||| 146||| 9/4F||| W Mullins(IRE) |||Mr PW Mullins||| 16||| 1st G1 Leop Topaz Nov 3m (75)

    2012||| 321P1||| Teaforthree |||8 |||151 |||5/1F |||R Curtis||| Mr JT McNamara||| 19||| 1st Chepstow Nov 3m (18)

    2011||| 11F25 |||Chicago Grey||| 8||| 151||| 5/1F||| G Elliott(IRE) |||Mr D O'Connor |||16 |||5th Leop G1 Topaz 3m (78)


    Will never again be a platform for slow old romantic boats at decent prices. Ah, Northern Bay in 1985, our first year there. ...one Boraceva, there's only one Boraceva..'89, Mr Marcus Armytage jogging round on Christmas Gorse '94. JT coaxing Rith Dubh home '02. 'The' Weld 2006. Simple, happy times.


    Over the past 10 years has evolved to a safety-conscious 3 mile 6 furlong decent standard G2 long distance novice chase. Over £75k to the winner in 2019.


    AGE - Minella Rocco and Tricky Trickster 2009 only 6 yr olds to win since Boraceva in ’89. Minella Rocco bt Native River who was another six year old. Only four winners this century aged older than eight. Rith Dubh, Rathvinden and Ravenhill at 10 yr olds, Midnight Prayer, a 9 yr old in 2014. 80 six yr olds have tried since '89 including 4 of the last seven favourites.


    10 yrs and over -. Ravenhill and Rathvinden were 10 yrs, Ladbroke Trophy winner Sizing Tennessee was third as a 10 yr old, Rith Dubh ‘02 and Flimsy Truth in ’97 were winners as 10 yr olds. In the last 14 renewals, 20 horses of this age group have run, only Tofino Bay also placed in 2013. He had won a G2 Nov Chase at Navan. No ten year olds ran in 2019, '17 or '16. In 2015 Perfect Gentleman was the only qualifier and 4th. Martello Tower PU actually the only nine year old in the 2017 field.


    Since the 2010 changes when it became a level weights contest, Ravenhill Rathvinden, Sizing Tennessee, Perfect Gentleman, Midnight Prayer, Tofino Bay and Beshabar (2nd in 2011) only ones above 8 yrs old to be in the top 6 finishers. That's 7 from 35 possibles but includes three of the last seven winners. Beshabar previously won G3 Nov Hurdle. Eleven other qualifiers over the past six years failed to finish the race.


    So when he got off the 10 yr old Rathvinden after winning in 2018, why did Patrick Mullins say 'we were hopeful with him, he fitted the profile.' Certainly had me reaching immediately for my notes. More on the horse's chase experience later. Do love the way that trainers, jockeys and the media at Cheltenham will say 'fits the profile.' Yet none of them will ever use the words 'trends' or 'stats.'


    PROFILE - Ravenhill, Rathvinden, Cause of Causes, Chicago Grey, Butler’s Cabin '07 and Loving Around ’96 only winners in last 30 not placed in first 4 on previous run. Ravenhill fell in the Troytown, distracted by a faller just in front of him. Rathvinden was being tapped for toe in the 2m 5f Flofas chase before unseating, had been second in a Drinmore. Cause Of Causes last of 5 in the Galmoy Hurdle but down the field in a Drinmore before that. Chicago Grey previous run 5l 5th in a 3m Nov Ch G1 at Leopardstown Christmas. Butler’s Cabin unplaced last time in a course G3 H'cap Chase but had won Class 3 chase at Cheltenham that season.


    30 of past 35, 1st or 2nd in either of past two runs (not Rathvinden U then a BD, not Tiger Roll, 3rd in his previous two outings, Cause of Causes, Butler’s Cabin or Another Rum '05). 12 from last 15 finished in the top 5 last time out.


    NO OF PREVIOUS CHASE RUNS - Has increased as this became more of a Graded event. No of chases beforehand going back the 11 graded years. Ravenhill first, 6-5-10-10-4-10-4-3-5-9-11. 25 horses having 9 chases or more have run in the past 12 yrs, 5 winners, P&l +26pts. Nice. Three last year, best Lord Du Mesnil in second. Only Atlanta Blaze qualified in 2019, 20/1, third when fell 2 out. Three ran in 2018, finished 1st and 3rd. 2016 Minella Rocco only 4 chases, but came from being placed in a G2, 2013 Back In Focus 3 runs, straight from winning a G1.


    21 from last 23 had finished first or second in a chase over at least 3 miles. (not Le Brueil, only 3rd in a G2. Not Butler’s Cabin but he had never run over 3 miles). Ravenhill, 2nd in the 106k Kerry National, Rathvinden had jogged round a beginners chase at Wexford before returning to shorter trips. Tiger Roll won the 44k Munster National, Minella Rocco 2nd in a G2 Reynoldstown G2. Midnight Prayer won a Warwick Novice. Back In Focus came from winning a G1. Cause Of Causes previously 2nd in both a Paddy Power Chase and a Kim Muir. Kept as a novice for this after finishing 10th in Irish National.


    Reynoldstown - 5 runners have come from Ascot since 2014. Minella Rocco 2nd at Newbury, won here. Ms Parfois, 2nd at Ascot, 2nd here. None have come here in the last two years, preferring the RSA instead.


    Ravenhill became the first F last time out to win this in 30yrs.


    32 from last 35 all out at least 4 times that season. Apart from Cause of Causes all other winners since 2010. Last 18 had all run at least 3 times over fences. Ravenhill's first chase was on the 30th May and had finished 5th behind Borice in the Galway Plate. Rathvinden's win was his 11th chase. Brought to chasing after 1004 days away. That trainer's useful. Tiger Roll's win was his also his 11th chase. On the go over fences since Ballinrobe on 31st May. In Belfast Preview Night Gordon Elliott said he wouldn't win as Jamie Codd had jumped ship for something else. Go Lisa O'Neill. Chicago Grey had 9 previous chases, Poker de Sivola had actually competed in 12 chases, winning only on his previous run). All of the last eleven apart from Back In Focus (G1 winner and only three chases) had run at least 4 times over fences.


    10 of the last 21 had run in handicap chase company, 5 winning, 5 placed. 11 hadn't run in h'caps including neither Le Breuil nor any of Rathvinden's 11 runs. Ravenhill, Tiger Roll, Cause Of Causes all very solid handicap form.


    All bar Le Breuil and Minella Rocco of the last eleven had run in a chase by 31st October. Le Breuil ran in 5 chases before Cheltenham starting on the 4th November. Minella Rocco had won a p2p in March '14. His first chase was on the 20th November. Rathvinden's first chase was actually in December '16, 15 months before his win. 7 of last 10 had spent at least two seasons over hurdles (I'm including Ravenhill hurdles run in May). Rathvinden off for 1004 days after finishing 3rd to Faugheen in a Ballymore. (So that's why he was a novice chaser at ten years old).


    9 from last 14 had competed in at least one Cheltenham chase before. All of those bar Tiger Roll and Minella Rocco placed at least once. Tiger Roll finished 3rd of six in a course novice chase but had achieved two previous course wins including a Triumph hurdle. Rocco had two previous attempts at course chases. Didn't take to it on either occasion. Maybe soft ground? Rathvinden, 3rd in Ballymore. Le Breuil had been twice second in on course chases. Ravenhill, Midnight Prayer, Back In Focus and Old Benny had never been here before.


    Since 2002, 9 winners had previously won a hurdle race over 3 miles. 3 others had been second (Tricky Trickster and Poker de had both been 2nd 'staying on' in such a race. Rith Duth had been 2nd in a 3m maiden hurdle to Paris Pike). Exceptions include Midnight Prayer, winner of and 'staying on' in a 2m 6f hurdle, Chicago Grey 2nd in 2m 6f hurdle. Ravenhill the first winner in six to have won a 3-mile hurdle.


    Minella Rocco had won an Irish p2p and Cause Of Causes was classy enough to finish 2nd in a Galway Hurdle and win the £84k Ladbroke at Ascot. Beaten 13l in Galmoy Hurdle. Tiger Roll had two attempts at 3-mile hurdles, unpl in a Stayers. 12 from last 14 had a hurdles mark of at least 119 (as if that helps). Ravenhill 131, Le Breuil best hurdle rating was 145, one run in a 3 m hurdle PU, Rathvinden had never run in a 3m hurdle. His hurdle rating would have been 150+. Tiger Roll had an Irish hurdle rating of 150, Minella Rocco had only two hurdle runs, winning both. Cause Of Causes got to 152, Midnight Prayer's English h'cap rating was only 123.


    6 of last 23 had yet to win over fences. But none of the last four. Minella Rocco and Cause Of Causes yet to score. Previous six had all won a chase. Rathvinden had won two G3 novices at Galway and Tipperary. Le Breuil a 2m 4f novice chase at Huntingdon. Ravenhill a 16k Limerick handicap.


    Only those two and Teaforthree of the last nine eight had yet to win a chase worth more than £6k to the winner. Going back from Ravenhill, chase winnings already gained by these novices before this race were £90k, £28k, £55k, £68k, £8k, £30, £15k, £70k. As I say, no more romantic slow old boats. Hard to believe that Ravenhill had already


    RATINGS - Flattening like a virus curve over the past few years. Going back the last nine winners were 142, 145, 150, 150, 152, 143, 146, 150, 146 and 151 respectively. Lord Du Mesnil, 2nd and top-rated last year off 153. Carefully Selected second top-rated off 152. The 2020 Festival Lay for Kevin Blake, why did it start 10/11? Ravenhill only joint 4th top-rated. 2019 Le Breuil well down the list behind top-rated OK Corral at 153. 2018 Rathvinden was joint top rated with Mossback. 2017 Tiger Roll was second top-rated behind the patiently ridden and unfortunate Edwulf on 159. (Seems so simple now. Tiger Roll SP 16/1?) 2016 Minella Rocco at 143 was the lowest rated of the first seven home. Cause Of Causes joint third top rated. Shotgun Paddy top rated was second here off 151. Previous run was to win Warwick Classic Chase. In 2013 Tofino Bay 2nd was rated 149 and Rival D'Estruval who fell 2 out was 143. Top Rated has finished 111205P1P2 (Lord du Mesnil 2020 last named) over the past 10 years.


    Horses rated 150+ are four from 10 in the past 10 years


    Nine of the last ten winners had either contested at least a G2 chase or a Grade A h'cap earlier that season.


    FUTURE GLORIES - Ok Corral, Mulcahy's Hill, Discorama and Warthog did not do any harm for 2019 vintage. Other subsequent winners too. Second in 2018 Ms Parfois, next time 2nd in an Aintree G1, Third in 2018 was Sizing Tennesse (Ladbroke Chase winner 2018, 12s, daisy), 4th home Impulsive Star (Warrick Classic 8s). Jury Duty (American Grand National), Keeper Hill, Shades of Midnight Reigning Supreme have all since won decent races. 2017, Tiger Roll, Edwulf, Missed Approach and Beware The Bear have all since won decent pots. (If you call back to back Grand Nationals, 'decent pots') Top rated 2016 was Vicente (153). Next run won Scottish National. And then won it again in 2017. Noble Endeavour (Paddypower Chase) going well when falling two out. Top rated in 2015 was Thunder And Roses (148). Next run won Irish National. 2014 Shutthefrontdoor 6th before doing the same. 2013 Godsmejudge 3rd here, then won Scottish National. 2011, Beshabar, 2nd here, yes, Scottish National.  

    WARWICK - 3m 2f Cl3 Nov Ch in February as Midnight Prayer in 2014. Also Relaxation in 2000 and Old Benny 2008 ran well in Warwick Novices. Two For Gold didn't come.

    6 of the last 8 British trained winners ran in a Newbury Chase - Le Breuil 3rd of 7 over 3m behind Santini. Also Ms Parfois won at Newbury, 2nd here. Native River 2nd here 2016 (beat Un Temps Pour Tout at Newbury). Check out the John Francome Novices Chase.


    WINNING JOCKEYS. - The best amateurs win this ('20, '19 Jamie Codd, '18 PW Mullins, '17 step up the fantastic Lisa O'Neill, '16 Derek O'Connor, '15 JJ Codd, '14 Joshua Newman '13 PW Mullins, '12 JT McNamara, '11 D O'Connor, '10 Katie Walsh, '09 S Waley Cohen). However, the field will be full of the best amateurs. The Doc should have been at least 2nd in 2017 on Edwulf, was 3rd on The Job Is Right 2015, 2nd on Shotgun Paddy in '15, 4th on Any Currency 7/1 in '10, 2nd on Drumconvis 22/1 in '09. Super ride on Minella Rocco who traded at 32s in running. Was giving him a reminder with a circuit to go.


    With winning the last two (at 14/1 and 12/1, I ask you), both superb rides, Jamie Codd has become the first jockey since 1946 to win this three times. Oft repeated, himself and Derek are worth at least half a stone. Jamie now the top ever Festival amateur with 10 wins. Has never won the Foxhunters. Jamie on three here, Doc and Patrick two each.


    GORDON ELLIOTT - Ravenhill, Tiger Roll, Cause of Causes and Chicago Grey all trained by the MAN, four winners in the last ten runnings. Also had Noble Endeavour in 2016 travelling nicely when fell two out. Jury Duty (ground) Mossback fell 2018, Gun Digger PU 2019. Gordon is 4 winners from only eight runners.


    MARES - Get 7 lbs, none last year, Atlanta Ablaze ran rightly in 2019. Ms Parfois 2nd 2018, four others have tried in last eleven since this became graded. Ms Parfois had won two listed Mares chases, only one of which was for Mares alone. 2nd of 4th last time in a Reynoldstown. No other mares placed and none have come here with that level of form.


    Jonjo O’Neill – Five winners this century and six in all. Minella Rocco only one since Butler’s Cabin 2007 was the stable's winning second string. JP McManus has owned 6 winners and also had 5 placed (and Edwulf). 2 blinkered winners trained by Jonjo. (None year, OK Corral 4/1 PU 2019 and but no runners in five of the previous seven years. Also owned Shutthefrontdoor 4/1 6th in 2014).


    Pipe stable has never won this. Martin had been second four times, David second '08 and again in 2015 with Broadway Buffalo 12/1. In the last ten, in 2019 Warthog 100/1 (PU but then won the G3 Caspian Caviar) Buddy Bolero 4th, Sona Sasta 6th, Over The Creek 2nd 7/1, Control Man 3rd 11/1, Not Left Yet, Sixo and Basilea Star, Gentle Ranger all falling when in contention. Champers on Ice 7s and What A Moment both PU in 2017. No runner 2018 or 2020. A King 2 winners in '08, '14 and Godsmejudge 3rd in 2013.


    Paul Nicholls (his column) 'has been trying to win this since Rampoldi was pulled up in '94. Find that strange as Segal says he 'has is the best trainer of staying chasers.' He is 0 from 18 in this race. (No runner last three years, Arpege D'Alene a good 4th in 2017, Vicente 5th, Vivaldi Collonges PU 2015, Hawkes Point PU 2013, Harry The Viking 2nd in 2012, no runner 2011, Massasoit 10th 2010). Two placed from 18 (11 started from first 6 in betting). Willie Mullins has now won this twice as a trainer and twice as a jockey. Shed a nice tear in 2013 when Patrick got Back In Focus home in front. (Along with Rathvinden, Haymount 3rd at 33s 2017, Measureofmydreams 3rd, Perfect Gentleman 4th, Suntiep 3rd, unlucky in 2012, Allez Garde brought down stablemate Soll). 2019 the ill-fated Ballyward backed down to 9/4 fav, fell at the 17th. Carefully Selected turned over last year at 10/11.


    N Henderson has yet to win this. Four runners in past nine. Didn't check his stats for OK Corral, only two previous chase runs, best ever finisher Beware The Bear 7th 2017.


    Irish trained - 8 winners from last 24 but possibly more relevant, six from the last ten. 1-4 last year, Discorama 2nd 2019 for Paul Nolan, Rathvinden won 2018. 2017 1st and 3rd (and Edwulf), 3rd 2016, 1st, 3rd and 4th in 2015, only 3rd 2014, winner and 2nd in 2013, 3rd and 4th in 2012, G Elliott winner 2011, also 4th and 5th from 5 runners. Taking over. Irish trained 4 from 14 last year, 5 from 20 2019. 4 from 16 runners 2018, 6 from 18 2017, going back to only 3 from 16 in 2013. It actually pays to back them all, blind.

    Ten Up Chase Navan In February 2015 it was won by Measureofmydreams who then finished 3rd here. Black Hercules fell when about to win the Ten Up then won the JLT. Noble Endeavour finished 5l 2nd at Navan, then fell 2 out in 4 miler when not completely out of it. The race has produced Another Rum to win this in 2005. He only finished 4th at Navan. Very Wood fav unplaced here 2015 after winning Ten Up. 2016 winner Acapella Bourgeois finished a mile behind Might Bite in the RSA but the second home some 32 lengths behind, Road To Respect hacked round in the Mildmay and has done pretty ok since. 2018, Mossback fatally injured at the 18th fence. Chris's Dream last year not entered but won a Troytown. Any Second Now, 3rd at Navan then won the Kim Muir. Decent race the day I went to Navan, last year, Captain Cj from Ellwood. First two home not entered.


    Used to be the best race in festival for blinkered/cheekpieces/visors/hoods etc runners. 5 winners from 98 qualifiers over last 17 renewals. Five ran last year, best Lord Du Mesnil. In 2018 ten ran, best Clondaw Cian a plugged on 4th at 125/1, Impulsive Star best of five in 4th 2018, 2017 Tiger Roll won in his usual blinkers, Missed Approach wore first time cheekpieces. 8 tried, two other first-timers. Native River 2nd 2016 from 10 qualifiers, 1-2-3 in 2015 (none first-time wearers).


    PRICE - Only two and a half favourites in the 20 years to 2010 then Chicago Grey, Teaforthree and Back In Focus come together. Like buses. Native Emperor ‘04 first (joint) favourite winner since ’92. Only two of the previous nine favourites finished in the first four. 2015 Very Wood 7/2f, 10th. 2017 A Genie In A Bottle 4/1 fav, 5th. 2016 Minella Rocco was the overnight 5/1 fav, opened 10s on course, went for a walk in running when Derek seemed to have trouble getting him to go out on the final lap. But Derek knew. No favourite now in last seven. Becoming due?


    Four BFs last time over the past three races, best Jerrysback 3rd 2019 and Sizing Tennessee in 3rd 2018. In 2017 four ran, best Arpege D'Alene in 4th. 2016 one BF last time, PU. 2015 Broadway Buffalo finished 2nd. 2020, still out looking for Smoking Gun.


    This century no beaten favourite last time out has won this race.




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Wealth Warning.  Any decisions made (or not) or the basis of any information in this site are the sole responsibility of the reader.  There is no obligation on me to follow my own advice.  I take no responsibility for (but am keen to hear of) any factual errors.  (Bgault01@gmail.com, @gaultstats). Previous years ‘stats on stats’ would suggest we may identify a decent priced winner from manageable groups every three or four races.  It is believed that Savello (2014 Grand Annual) took from Golden Chieftain (2013 3m hcap chase) the record for breaking the most stats in a race.  Stands now at 8.  Cole Harden equalised with 8 in the 2015 World Hurdle.  Remember, after you have cursed/laughed at me and given up totally on trends, they will come back to bite.  Always happens.  Usually on Gold Cup Day. 

Beware GO SEA - Groundless Optimism Syndrome Encouraged by Alcohol.  A Cotswold condition very common at this time of year.