• National Hunt Chase

    The 159th year of the National Hunt Steeplechase Challenge Cup



    14 from the last 15 aged 6, 7 or 8 years

    23 from last 27 placed in the first 4 last time

    One of the runners is likely to win the next Irish, Scottish or Welsh National

    19 from last 20 placed 1st or 2nd in a chase over at least 3 miles
    Last six winners rated at least 143

    9 of the last 19 had ran in handicap company, all gained at least a place

    No winners this century were beaten favourite last time out



    Race Distance - about 4 miles

    Winner and placed to be aged 6 to 8 years. If tried, will have been 1st or 2nd in a chase over at least 3 miles. Ran in a chase by 31st Oct 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 out. Will have run at least five times over fences, or have won a G1 chase. Will have finished 1st or 2nd in nothing shorter than a 2m 4f mile hurdle or have high class 2m hurdle form. If given a hurdle RPR, it is above 119. If previously tried in handicap chase company, has been placed. If ran here, has been placed here. Doesn't have to have raced here before. Winner rated 143+. Likely to have contested at least a G2 Chase or a Grade A handicap. Irish trained well out perform their numbers. Respect G Elliott, A.King, JJ O’Neill. D Pipe often placed in this race, Nicholls and Henderson stables have difficulty here. Nicholls runners tend to be too short in price. Could be any price and ridden by top amateur. Favourite not 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 Irish, Scottish or Welsh Nationals is in the field but doesn't win this. Check Navan form 19th February.


    They jump 25 fences and in 2016 it became a Grade 2



  • Evidence

    Will never again be a platform for romantic slow old boats. Over the past 8 years has evolved to a 4 mile high standard G2 long distance novice chase. £72k to the winner in 2017


    AGE Minella Rocco and Tricky Trickster 2009 only 6 yr olds to win since 'there's only one' Boraceva in ’89. Minella Rocco bt Native River who was another six year old. 12 from last 15 aged 7 or 8 (Midnight Prayer was a 9 yr old and Rith Dubh 10yrs in '02 - THE fantastic ride from JT McNamara). Last year Haymount (8yrs) was the only one of the ten finishers aged older than seven.


    10 yrs and over. Rith Dubh ‘02 and Flimsy Truth in ’97 were winners. In the last 12 renewals, 15 horses of this age group have run, only Tofino Bay placed 2013. He had won a G2 Nov Chase at Navan. No other aged 10 or above placed in the past 19. No ten year olds ran last two years. In 2015 Perfect Gentleman was the only qualifier and 4th. Martello Tower PU actually the only nine year old in last years field.


    And since the 2010 changes, 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 4 from 52 possibles. Beshabar previously won G3 Nov Hurdle. Nine other qualifiers over the past five years failed to finish the race.


    PROFILE Cause of Causes, Chicago Grey, Butler’s Cabin '07 and Loving Around ’96 only winners in last 27 not placed in first 4 on previous run. 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 G1 at Leopardstown. Butler’s Cabin unplaced last time in a course G3 H'cap Chase but had won Class 3 chase at Cheltenham that season.


    28 of past 32, 1st or 2nd in either of past two runs (not Tiger Roll, 3rd in his previous two outings, Cause of Causes, Butler’s Cabin or Another Rum '05). 11 from last 12 finished in the top 5 last time out.


    19 from last 20 had finished first or second in a chase over at least 3 miles. (not Butler’s Cabin but he had never run over 3 miles). 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 10th in Irish National.


    30 from last 33 all out at least 4 times that season. Apart from Cause of Causes all other winners since 2010. Last 17 had all run at least 3 times over fences. (Tiger Roll's win was his 11th chase. On the go over fences since Ballinrobe on 31st May. Chicago Grey 9 previous chases, Poker de Sivola had actually competed in 12 chases, winning only on his previous run). All of the last eight apart from Back In Focus (G1 winner) had run at least 5 times over fences.


    9 of the last 19 had run in handicap chase company, 5 winning, 4 placed. 10 hadn't run in h'caps.


    All bar Minella Rocco of the last eight had been in a chase by 31st October. Minella Rocco had won a p2p in March '14. His first chase was on the 20th November. 6 of last 8 had spent at least two seasons over hurdles.


    8 from last 11 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? Midnight Prayer, Back In Focus and Old Benny had never been here before.


    From the last 15 (since the 2002 change of conditions), 8 winners had previously won over 3 miles over hurdles. 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 The last three winners had not 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, a Stayers and 10 from last 12 had a hurdles mark of at least 119 (if that helps) Minella Rocco had only two hurdle runs, winning both. Tiger Roll had an Irish hurdle rating of 150, Cause Of Causes got to 152, Midnight Prayer's English h'cap rating was only 123.


    6 of last 20 had yet to win over fences. That includes Minella Rocco and Cause Of Causes. Previous six had all won a chase.


    Only Teaforthree of the last seven had yet to win a chase worth more than £6k to the winner. Going back from Tiger Roll, chase winnings already gained by these novices before this race were £68k, £8k, £30, £15k, £70k. As I say, no more romantic slow old boats.


    Ratings. Risen over the past few years. Going back the last six winners were at 152, 143, 146, 150, 146 and 151 respectively. Last year Tiger Roll was second top rated behind the patiently ridden and unfortunate Edwulf on 159. (Seems so simple now. How did Tiger Roll start at 16/1?) 2016 Minella Rocco at 143 was the lowest rated of the first seven home. Cause Of Causes joint third top rated. In 2014 Shotgun Paddy top rated was second here off 151. Previous run was to win Warwick Classic Chase. Its a pity he can't jump fences. In 2013 Tofino Bay 2nd was rated 149 and Rival D'Estruval who fell 2 out was 143. Six of the last six winners had either contested at least a G2 chase or a Grade A h'cap earlier that season. Top Rated has finished 111205P over past 7 years.


    FUTURE GLORIES 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. Nothing from 2017, Beware The Bear won a Rehearsal but couldn't cope with a Chepstow bog.

    WARWICK - Solighoster the same 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. Won in 2016 by Belami Des Pitons in 2016 injured

    5 of the last 7 British trained winners ran in a Newbury Chase - Also Native River 2nd 2016 (beat Un Temps Pour Tout).


    WINNING JOCKEYS. The best amateurs win this ('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, ’08 C Huxley, '07 A J Berry). However the field will be full of the best amateurs. The Doc should have been at least 2nd last year 3rd on the 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. Fell two out 2013 on Rival D'Estruval when in contention. Super ride on Minella Rocco who traded at 32 in running. Mr O'Connor should be 2 wins and 5 places from 12 rides. Also compare a similar efficient ride in 2015 by Jamie Codd on Cause Of Causes.


    STABLES - Tiger Roll, Cause of Causes and Chicago Grey all trained by G Elliott, three winners in the last seven runnings. Now The Man. Also had Noble Endeavour in 2016 travelling nicely when fell two out


    Jonjo O’Neill – five winners in last 16 and six in all. (Butler’s Cabin was the stable second string). JP has owned 6 winners and also 5 placed (and Edwulf). 2 blinkered winners trained by Jonjo. (No runners in four of the last six years. Used to be The Man? Also trained Shutthefrontdoor).

    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 nine, 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. Trying hard. Champers on Ice 7s and What A Moment both PU in 2017. A King 2 winners '08, '14 and Godsmejudge 3rd in 2013.


    Paul Nicholls (his column) 'has been trying to win this since Rampoldi was pulled up in '94'. He is 0 from 18 in this race. (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 17 (11 started from first 6 in betting). Willie Mullins has now won this as a trainer and won twice as a jockey. Shed a nice tear in 2013 when Patrick got Back In Focus home in front. (Also Haymount 3rd at 33s 2017, Measureofmydreams 3rd, Perfect Gentleman 4th, Suntiep 3rd, unlucky in 2012, Allez Garde brought down stablemate Soll). N Henderson has never won this. Beware The Bear 7th last year.


    Irish trained - 7 winners from last 21 but possibly more relevant, four from the last seven. 1st and 3rd last year (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. Doing well in this. Irish trained 6 from 18 last year 4 from 20 last year, 5 from 17 2015, 4 from 15 2014, only 3 from 16 in 2013. Beginning to dominate.

    Michael Hourigan trained Deejaydee in 1999 to win and The Job Is Right 3rd 2016.



    Ten Up Chase Navan February 2015 was won by Measureofmydreams who finished 3rd at Cheltenham. 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. Last years 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 Milday and has done pretty ok since. Monbeg Notorious from Mossback and Moulin A Vent. Mossback only one here.



    Used to be the best race in festival for blinkered/cheekpieces/visors/hoods etc runners. 5 winners from 78 qualifiers over last 15 renewals. Tiger Roll won 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). But only Tofino Bay placed from about 19 triers spread over the previous four years. No first time blinkers from 5 carriers in 2014.


    PRICE Only two and a half favourites in the 20 years to 2010 then Chicago Grey, Teaforthree and Back In Focus come together, like a fleet of 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. Last year, A Genie In A Bottle 4/1 fav, 5th. 2016 Minella Rocco was the overnight 5/1 fav, opened 10s on course, went 32s in running when Derek seemed to have trouble getting him to out on the final lap. But Derek knew.



    Four BF last time last year, best Arpege D'Alene in 4th. 2016 one BF last time, PU. 2015 Broadway Buffalo finished 2nd. 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 (Gary).  I take no responsibility for (but am keen to hear of) any factual errors.  Previous years ‘stats on stats’ would suggest we may identify a decent priced winner from manageable groups every three or four races.  I tend to improve as a tipster as the week goes on, possibly too worried on the Tuesday.  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.