The National Hunt Chase for amateurs is the oldest race at the Festival - after 140 runnings it is historically the race around which the Festival was originally built.
The longest race at the Festival is also probably the most difficult to predict. Not only is the trip an unknown for many of the competitors, but all horses are novices and have to be ridden by amateurs. Not surprisingly, there has been only one winning favourite in recent times.
2017 Tiger Roll
2016 Minella Rocco
2015 Cause of Causes
2014 Midnight Prayer
2013 Back in Focus
2011 Chicago Grey
2010 Poker De Sivola
2009 Tricky Trickster
2008 Old Benny
2007 Butler´s Cabin
2006 Hot Weld
2005 Another Rum
2004 Native Emperor
2003 Sudden Shock
2002 Rith Dubh
1998 Wandering Light
1997 Flimsy Truth
1996 Loving Around
1995 Front Line
1994 Christmas Gorse
1993 Ushers Island
1992 Keep Talking
1991 Smooth Escort
1990 Topsham Bay
(prior winners detailed at bottom of page)
1. The National Hunt Chase has been run more times than any other race at The Festival, and is in its 141st year in 2011. Until the 1930s, only the Grand National was more important than the National Hunt Chase in the Jump calendar. The race had been run at a number of venues until it became a part of the new two-day National Hunt Festival at Cheltenham in 1911. It had also been run at Cheltenham in 1904 and 1905.
2. The four-mile National Hunt Chase is the longest race run at The Festival. The race was reduced in distance by a furlong in 2008 and reverted back to the Old Course.
3. The race is usually one of the best supported at The Festival, with very competitive fields each year. The largest post-war field size was 37 (1948) and the smallest 13 (1993). There is now a safety limit of 20 runners.
4. Flimsy Truth, a 33/1 chance, set a record post-war time of 8 mins 11.09s in 1998 but that was beaten by Relaxation in 2000, who scored in 8 mins 0.60s.
5. Flimsy Truth is not the longest-priced post-war winner - that honour goes to Topsham Bay, successful in 1990, and 2005 winner Another Rum, who were both returned at 40/1. Castledermot, 6/4 favourite in 1949, is the shortest-priced victor.
6. The race has proved a good guide to future success in recent seasons. The 2007 winner Butler’s Cabin subsequently won the Irish Grand National, while 2006 victor Hot Weld landed a memorable double in 2007 by collecting the Scottish National and the Sandown Gold Cup in the space of a week. The 2007 John Smith’s Grand National victor Silver Birch finished fourth in 2004. The 2009 winner Tricky Trickster took the Grade Two AON Chase at Newbury the following year.
7. The 2008 race was run as the Peter O’Sullevan National Hunt Chase to celebrate the legendary commentator’s 90th birthday.
8. Katie Walsh, whose father Ted and brother Ruby had both enjoyed great success at past Cheltenham Festivals, joined an elite group of female riders to have won at Jump racing’s biggest meeting when riding Poker De Sivola to beat her best friend Nina Carberry in the 2010 race on Becauseicouldntsee.
2012 National Hunt Chase Challenge Review
TEAFORTHREE was sent off as 5/1 favourite for this gruelling test and he didn't let his backers down, coming home ahead of Harry The Viking (7/1).
The Rebecca Curtis-trained winner had looked an out-and-out stayer n his previous races and that proved to be the case here, as he made virtually every yard of the running, fighting off several challengers from the top of the hill.
He jumped the last upsides with Irish raider Four Commanders (10/1), who was ridden by Nina Carberry, but the winner proved the stronger on the run-in, with Paul Nicholls' Harry The Viking staying on from the clouds to grab second close home.
2011 National Hunt Chase Challenge Review
CHICAGO GREY piled the misery on the bookmakers on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival with a victory in the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup.
It was a first Cheltenham Festival winner for trainer Gordon Elliott and the Irish raider was given the perfect waiting ride by amateur jockey Derek O’Connor.
The superstar tackled leader Beshabar at the last and beat him into second, with Be There In Five in third and Alfa Beat, with whom the winner had fought out favouritism before the start, back in fourth.
A thrilled O'Connor said: "It's brilliant. The owners, Gordon and Paul [Carberry] have instilled the faith in me that this horse was good enough to win and I'm delighted to pay them back. Paul told me from the start how it would go. He's lazy and just an out-and-out stayer."
2010 National Hunt Chase Challenge Review
Compared to other Festival contests, the National Hunt Chase often doesn't live as long in the memory of race goers, other than punters fortunate enough to have backed the winner or those even luckier to be connected to the triumphant horse, but this renewal was different as it secured a piece of Festival history, with the first two home being ridden by lady jockeys.
Indeed, Katie Walsh and Nina Carberry had the contest pretty much to themselves in the closing stages, with the former taking the lead on POKER DE SIVOLA from eventual runner up, Becauseicouldntsee, shortly after the last and hanging on gamely on the long run in.
The winner was a major gamble in last seasons Fulke Walwyn, and whilst connections lost their money that day, this would have come as more than ample compensation. Ferdy Murphys charge is clearly suited by decent ground and the surface had dried out even further since the previous day. He also has stamina in abundance and is likely to be aimed at some of the end of season Nationals.
The second was simply outstayed, but ran a cracker having taken up the running approaching three out and made a bold bid for glory. He's very lightly raced and so is entitled to improve further, especially since he is such a big horse and therefore is likely to have taken time to develop physically.
The Irish filled the first three paces with Prudent Honour belying his odds, and his maiden tag over fences, to claim third. He would have been even closer but for being badly hampered by the fall of Gentle Ranger.
Locally trained Any Currency did best of the home contingent. He was another who was doing all of his best work at the death and he remains ultra consistent.
Consistent isnt a word you'd use to describe Mobaasher, who can be a bit of a monkey. He was never really on a going day here but plugged on for a respectable fifth. Gentle Rangers fall did him no favours either, but big fields and well run contests often bring out the best in him.
Fabalu and Far More Serious were both up with the pace for much of the contest, but neither could sustain their efforts, whilst Gentle Ranger, who caused such chaos when he came down, was still travelling well at the time and could easily have been involved in the finish.
2009 National Hunt Chase Challenge Review
On ground slightly drier than the previous day, one of the best fields assembled in recent times went to post for this, the oldest of the Festival races.
Plenty of horses who’ve run well in this contest in recent seasons have gone on to bigger and better things on the stayers’ circuit and this year’s winner, TRICKY TRICKSTER, looks capable of extending that trend.
He has only had seven lifetime starts to date and so should be open to no end of improvement, and stamina is clearly his forte given that the pace of the race was solid throughout. His jumping was also fluent, so a crack at the Grand National looks an obvious long term aim.
Drumconvis ran well in second. However, two mistakes at crucial moments – firstly at the final ditch four out and then again at the last - might have cost him the race. He clearly improved for the better underfoot conditions here.
Incredibly, Nine De Sivola remains a maiden over fences – despite being good enough to be running well in this race when falling two years ago and to be placed in both the Irish and Scottish Nationals – and in some ways this was another frustrating effort as he was flying up the hill at the death. On the plus side, this was his best effort for some time.
Can’t Buy Time (fourth) had been all the rage for this after hacking up on his last start at Sandown. That gamble looked like being landed coming to the last, but he emptied out on the run in and clearly didn’t stay the trip in the end. He remains a decent prospect.
Hennessy was fifth, running a cracker for one so inexperienced. There should be more to come with time and he would have been closer here but for stumbling badly two out.
Niche Market, fourth last year, was slightly disappointing in eighth. Everything looked in place for a big run, but he never really got into the contest and is surely better than this.
Coe was another to be backed on the strength of a good effort last time out – a second in the Blue Square Gold Cup at Haydock. However, having been well placed on the final circuit, he came under pressure at the top of the hill and seemed held in third when falling two out.
2008 Peter O'Sullevan National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup Review
This stamina sapping contest has received a significant boost in recent seasons by the wins of Hot Weld in 2006 and Butlers Cabin last year. Whilst Holt Weld went on to win the Scottish National and Betfred (formerly Whitbread) Gold Cup, Butlers Cabin followed his triumph with victory in the Irish National.
This year’s victor looks as though he may be capable of continuing that trend as OLD BENNY was an impressive winner, and whilst he was a decent staying hurdler last season he has always looked like a chaser in the making.
The marathon trip clearly suited him. We was patiently ridden early on, but by the time he’d crept his way into contention he wasn’t travelling as well as the eventual second, Over The Creek. However, he stayed on better than that rival and given his owner’s penchant for the race, the Grand National looks a likely long term target.
Over The Creek looked the most likely winner at the second last and he lost little in defeat as he was giving 7lbs to the winner. He has showed his liking for this track before and he was nicely clear of the third Back On Line, who in turn ran well given that she was up with the pace for much of the contest.
All Niche Market (fourth) does is stay so it was no surprise to see him doing all his best work at the death, whilst the favourite, Ornais (fifth), who had something in hand at the ratings, again disappointed at this venue and connections feel he may need a flat track to show his best.
If there is another horse to take out of the race it is probably Sandhurst (eighth) who was running for only the fifth time under rules here.
2007 National Hunt Chase Review
One for the trends experts as Jonjo O’Neill trained his fourth winner of this race in the last six renewals, and it wasn’t as big a shock as the horse’s 33-1 starting price might have suggested, as BUTLER’S CABIN had run a number of good races prior to this event, most notably when a staying on fourth to Exotic Dancer in the Paddy Power here in November.
In fact, it was a trend that we identified on this site ahead of the 2007 Festival: "Jonjo O'Neill trained horses have won 3 of the last 5 runnings of the Letheby & Christopher National Hunt Chase (Thursday) at odds of 5/1, 10/1 and 25/1 - so it's well worth considering his entries in that race!"
The horse clearly gives his all, and having battled strongly to get the better of his duel with runner up, Character Building on the run in, he needed oxygen after passing the post. However, his victory over this marathon trip has opened up a whole raft of new options for connections, who may now aim the horse at the Irish National.
Character Building has had a excellent season, but he simply couldn’t find as much as the winner on the gruelling run to the line and this trip may just have stretched his stamina. He may need some time to recover from his exertions here.
There was a decent gap back to Countess Trifaldi in third. This was by far the best race this seven year old mare has ever run and a repeat effort should see her losing her maiden tag in no time.
In behind the front three the race was full of incident. Fair Question had led for much of the way before falling in front of the stands prior to going out on the final circuit. Nine De Sivola, Not Left Yet, Bengoand Miko De Beauchene then all departed three out. The first two, in particular, looked unlucky as they had both been patiently ridden and were just starting to deliver their challenges at the time, travelling well. Nine De Sivola is a proven stayer and would surely have been involved in the finish.
As if that wasn’t enough, hot favourite, Gungadu, then crashed out at the second last, when in front. However, he looked to be coming to the end of his tether at the time and probably wouldn’t have lasted home. A drop back to 3 miles will surely be on the cards.
Of the rest, Petertheknot is worth keeping an eye on as he was badly hampered in the melee at the third last. His rider still hadn’t asked him a question and although he lost any amount of ground swerving the stricken horses, he plugged on up the straight to suggest he may have got into contention with a clear passage.
2006 National Hunt Chase Review
Trainer Ferdy Murphy and jockey Richard Harding were left to celebrate their second big priced winner of the meeting when HOT WELD took the honours in the National Hunt Chase. Harding gave the winner a fine ride, dictating a slow pace in front and then quickening things up on the run for home, leaving a number of his rivals tapped for toe.
The horse relishes decent ground and clearly has an abundance of stamina having stayed on strongly up the run in when challenged on either side by the eventual second and third. Beantown and Far From Trouble both seemed to leave their challenges too late and would surely have got by the winner in another 100 yards.
Wolf Creek looked the winner four out, but his stamina seemed to give way and he faded to finish fourth.
Ardaghey was still travelling okay when coming to grief three out.
Roll of Honour (1946-1988)
(recent winners detailed towards top of page)
Year Winner Age/Wt Jockey Trainer SP Ran
1988 Over The Road 7-12-04 Mr Tom Costello Terry Casey 10/1
1987 Mighty Mark 8-12-07 Mr Jimmy Walton Frank Walton 8/1
1986 Omerta 6-12-07 Mr Lorcan Wyer Homer Scott IRE 9/4F
1985 Northern Bay 9-12-04 Mr Tony Fowler Tom Bill 12/1
1984 Macks Friendly 7-12-07 Mr Willie Mullins Paddy Mullins IRE 11/4
1983 Bit Of A Skite 7-12-00 Mr Frank Codd Edward O'Grady IRE 5/1F
1982 Hazy Dawn 7-12-07 Mr Willie Mullins Paddy Mullins IRE 8/1
1981 Lucky Vane 6-12-07 Mr Stephen Bush Toby Balding 13/1
1980 Waggoners Walk 11-12-04 Mr Tony Fowler Caroline Mason 10/1
1979 Artic Ale 8-12-00 Mr John Fowler Dan Moore IRE 20/1
1978 Gay Tie 5-11-09 Mr John Fowler Mick O'Toole IRE 10/1
1977 Alpenstock 10-12-04 Mr Dick Saunders Stan Mellor 14/1
1976 Sage Merlin 8-12-07 Mr Peter Greenall Jack Hardy 5/2F
1975 Abandoned (course waterlogged)
1974 Mr Midland 7-12-04 Mr Mouse Morris Edward O’Grady IRE 7/2
1973 Foreman 7-12-01 Mr Bill Shand Kydd Tom Jones 11/2F
1972 Charley Winking 7-12-00 Mr Derrick Scott Leslie Scott 20/1
1971 Deblin’s Green 8-11-07 Mr Derek Edmunds George Yardley 9/2F
1970 Domason 7-12-01 Mr Robert Alner Harry Dufosee 10/1
1969 Lizzy The Lizard 10-12-00 Mr Grant Cann Tony Hartnoll 10/1
1968 Fascinating Forties 9-11-07 Mr Michael Dickinson George Owen 9/1
1967 Master Tammy 9-11-07 Mr Brian Fanshawe George Guilding 100/7
1966 Polaris Missile 7-11-09 Mr John Thorne John Thorne 100/6
1965 Red Vale 11-12-00 Mr George Small Albert Piper 100/8
1964 Dorimont 10-12-01 Mr Charles Vaughan Tom Taaffe IRE 4/1
1963 Time 8-12-00 Mr Ian Balding Willie Stephenson 8/1
1962 Go Slow 7-12-07 Mr George Small Albert Piper 10/1
1961 Superfine 8-12-04 Sir William Pigott-Brown Frank Cundell 10/1
1960 Proud Socks 8-12-00 Mr H Thompson Vivian Bishop 100/6
1959 Sabaria 8-12-00 Mr John Lawrence Bob Turnell 5/2F
1958 Spud Tamson 7-12-04 Mr Geordie Dun Tommy Dun 13/2
1957 Kari Sou 8-12-00 Mr Alan Lillingston Archie Thomlinson 100/6
1956 Rosana III 7-12-00 Mr G Everitt G Everitt 9/1
1955 Reverend Prince 9-12-00 Mr C Pocock P Dufosee 33/1
1954 Quare Times 8-12-04 Mr Bunny Cox Vincent O’Brien IRE 5/2F
1953 Pontage 7-12-04 Mr Bunny Cox Dan Moore IRE 9/4F
1952 Frosty Knight 6-12-00 Mr Charles Straker Ian Straker 15/2
1951 Cushendun 6-12-04 Mr Peter Chisman Bobby Renton 10/1
1950 Ellesmere 7-12-07 Mr Atty Corbett Ken Cundell 100/30F
1949 Castledermot 7-12-07 Lord Mildmay Vincent O'Brien IRE 6/4F
1948 Bruno II 8-12-03 Major Guy Cunard William Anstruther-Gray 20/1
1947 Maltese Wanderer 8-12-03 Major Dermot Daly Tom Yates 6/1
1946 Prattler 11-12-03 Major Dermot Daly Tom Yates 33/1