The RSA Chase (2:05pm) is a Class A Grade 1 chase run over three miles and about half a furlong. It is open to novices aged five years old and upwards.
The total prize fund in 2016 is £150,000 and the race will be run on Wednesday, March 16.
Until recently, shocks were often a feature of this event (formerly known as the Royal and SunAlliance Chase). Cheltenham is always a tough place for novice chasers, and the quicker pace of Festival races and the stamina sapping trip have all probably contributed to this statistic.
They may also be the reasons why only Looks Like Trouble and Denman have gone on in recent years to win the Gold Cup. Indeed, some trainers prefer to avoid the race altogether and target their best staying novices at other festivals later in the year. Of course, that all changed when the 2012 RSA Chase winner Bobs Worth went on to land the 2013 Gold Cup.
2015 Don Poli
2014 O'faolains Boy
2013 Lord Windermere
2012 Bobs Worth
2011 Bostons Angel
2010 Weapon's Amnesty
2008 Albertas Run
2006 Star De Mohaison
2004 Rule Supreme
2003 One Knight
2002 Hussard Collonges
2000 Lord Noelie
1999 Looks Like Trouble
1998 Florida Pearl
1996 Nahthen Lad
1995 Brief Gale
1994 Monsieur Le Cure
1993 Young Hustler
1991 Rolling Ball
1990 Garrison Savannah
1989 Envopak Token
(prior winners detailed at bottom of page)
1. The RSA Chase is run with its current title for the third time this year although is backed by one of Cheltenham’s longest-running sponsors. It was run as the Royal & SunAlliance Chase up to 2008 and as the Royal SunAlliance Chase in 1997. Sun Alliance, which merged with Royal Insurance in 1996, previously backed the Sun Alliance Chase for 23 years and sponsored at Cheltenham for 26 years altogether. From 1971-73, the Foxhunter Chase was titled the Sun Alliance & London Foxhunters.
2. Sun Alliance & London was the first sponsor outside racing to embrace commercial sponsorship at The Festival. Only the tote precedes the insurance company. Before 1974 the race was titled the Broadway Novices’ Chase and the Totalisator Champion Novices’ Chase.
3. Since 1959, seven horses have won both the RSA Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup. They are: 1959 Mandarin (Gold Cup 1962) 1963 Arkle (Gold Cup 1964-6) 1974 Ten Up (Gold Cup 1975) 1979 Master Smudge (Gold Cup 1980 on the disqualification of Tied Cottage) 1990 Garrison Savannah (Gold Cup 1991) 1999 Looks Like Trouble (Gold Cup 2000) 2007 Denman (Gold Cup 2008) To this list might be added the name of Tied Cottage, winner of the RSA Chase in 1976 and the Gold Cup in 1980, before subsequent disqualification.
4. The biggest field for the race has been 30, in 1986, and the smallest eight, in 1993. The current safety limit is 20.
5. Willie Mullins has the best record among current trainers in the contest, having landed three victories with Rule Supreme (2004), Florida Pearl (1998) and Cooldine (2009). Legendary handler Fred Winter also saddled three winners of the RSA Chase - Killiney (1973), Pengrail (1975) and Brown Chamberlin (1982).
6. Irish-trained winners number 15 in total, the latest being Weapon’s Amnesty, saddled by Charles Byrnes last year.
7. The most successful jockey in the RSA Chase has been Peter Scudamore, who notched up a hat-trick from 1991 to 1993 with Rolling Ball, Miinnehoma and Young Hustler. Ruby Walsh is the only current jockey to have landed the race twice, having won on Denman (2007) and Cooldine (2009).
8. The longest-priced winners since 1964 are Hussard Collonges in 2002 and Canny Danny in 1983, both at 33/1, with Arkle the shortest-priced at 4/9 in 1963.
9. The fastest running of the race was won by Lord Noelie in 2000 at 6 mins 5.3s, beating the previous best of 6 mins 6.6s set by Miinnehoma in 1992.
10. The West Awake is the only horse to have won both what is now the Neptune Investment Managment Novices’ Hurdle (previously sponsored by RSA) and the RSA Chase. He won the Hurdle in 1987 and the Chase in 1988. Weapon’s Amnesty became the first horse to win the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and RSA Chase.
2012 RSA Chase Review
The race looked at the mercy of Grand Crus beforehand but the Pipe chaser could only finish a disappointing fourth (disappointed again since), with honours going to the Nicky Henderson-trained BOBS WORTH.
The winner had been beaten by Grand Crus in the Feltham Novices' Chase earlier in the season but turned the tables comprehensively here, with Mouse Morris First Lieutenant proving his main challenger during the race.
The latter horse was in front at the top of the hill but having raced freely throughout, he had nothing left in reserve when Bobs Worth joined him approaching the last, although to his credit he kept on well to finish two and a half lengths behind the winner.
There was a further 11-length gap back to the third horse Call the Police (20/1), but this was all about the winner, who remains unbeaten at the Prestbury circuit.
2011 RSA Chase Review
Bostons Angel won the 2011 RSA Chase and made amends for the Jessica Harrington stable after the trainer was robbed of a victory when Oscars Well fell in the Neptune Novices Hurdle earlier on the card.
After travelling well throughout the race, Bostons Angel battled to an exciting victory over Jessies Dream, with Wayward Prince filling the places in third.
It was another success for the Irish but it had been Time For Rupert who had been considered the banker of the meeting by many and he never looked to be travelling in the famous race.
Willie Mullins’ Quel Esprit was another horse that looked to be in contention before falling three from home, but it was to be Bostons Angel’s day at Prestbury Park.
2010 RSA Chase Review
A surprise in betting terms perhaps, but there appeared to be nothing lucky about the victory as former Festival winner WEAPONS AMNESTY stormed to an impressive win in a top class renewal of the RSA Chase.
Last year's Albert Bartlett winner clearly loves Cheltenham as well as the better ground often found here and, well though he has been running in Ireland all season, it was no coincidence that his improved effort here came as he has encountered genuinely good ground for the first time over fences.
That Albert Bartlett success showed that he had plenty of stamina and coupling that with some sound jumping, was enough to see off a high class field here. On this showing, he will be a serious contender for next year's Gold Cup.
The race had been billed as a match between two extremely exciting young chasers from the Nicky Henderson yard, but in the end it was the third of his runners, Burton Point who fared best for that stable by capturing second on the line.
He was never nearer than at the finish, but is a very game and consistent sort who should be capable of mixing it with the best staying chasers next season. He was on and off the bridle for much of the way and looks likely to stay further in due course.
The third, Long Run burst on to the scene with a brilliant win in the Feltham at Kempton on Boxing Day and followed that up by winning the Kingmaker over two miles at Warwick. After that success connections had to decide whether to come here or go for the Arkle and they probably made the right choice as he was only beaten just over seven lengths despite having jumped sketchily throughout. Indeed, his relative inexperience over British obstacles would probably have been even more brutally exposed had he gone for the two mile championship contest.
Despite the mistakes, he still travelled powerfully for much of the race and he remains an exciting prospect. He was clearly tired in the closing stages and Knockara Beau almost snatched third off him. He was, though, well clear of the other Henderson runner, Punchestowns, who was well below his best in fifth. Not surprisingly, it was reported after the race that he had a problem he had ripped off a shoe and finished lame behind so this run is best forgotten.
Diamond Harry was also a big disappointment, but his jumping fell apart giving him no chance in a field this competitive. The ground may have been on the lively side for him as well and he is possibly best fresh. Given his huge frame, he may improve further with another summer on his back and he could still reach the very top over fences in time.
2009 RSA Chase Review
If Mikael D’Haguenet proved himself the most exciting young hurdler around in the previous contest, stablemate COOLDINE could confidently be called the best novice chaser around after making it two from two for the Walsh / Mullins combination on the day with victory in the RSA Chase.
This was a high class performance as the winner ground it out to land the spoils from a field that was strung out right across Gloucestershire in behind him. He travelled powerfully throughout and could be called the winner a long way from home.
The strong early gallop really told in the end and whilst Cooldine saw the race out in tremendous style, many of his rivals were left legless and could do little more than walk across the line.
He looks one of the best winners of this race for a number of years, with the only caveat being that such a tough race could take its toll on him mentally. If it doesn’t, he could be the one best placed to challenge Kauto Star and Denman next season.
Incredibly, only six of the fifteen runners that went to post finished the race.
Horner Woods ran a blinder to follow the winner home, albeit at a respectable distance. It was a one horse race from some way out, but the runner up clearly relished encountering some better ground here and was probably helped by racing well off the break neck early pace on.
By contrast, Massini’s Maguire, the Ballymore Properties Hurdle winner in 2007, was up with the pace throughout and did well to finish third, staying on again having looked well cooked, and certain to finish no better than fifth, three out. A better round of jumping would have helped him to be even more competitive.
Carruthers was the one responsible for the searching early gallop and so he did really well to finish fourth, especially after a bone crunching error three out that would have accounted for many lesser animals. He clearly tries his heart out and will be a threat in all the big staying handicaps next season, especially given his favoured soft ground. He is also the youngest of the first five home and so could be open to more improvement, not least because he has had only four lifetime starts over fences to date. He remains an exciting prospect.
Casey Jones flew up the hill from nowhere to finish fifth, and a few strides after the line he was third. Again, he was probably suited by sitting well off the pace and this effort might have flattered him.
The well fancied What A Friend was the only other finisher. The stamina sapping nature of this contest should have suited him, but he may be just below top class and decent handicaps will probably be his target next season.
Surprisingly, there were only two fallers, but plenty of the others were let down by their jumping, not least Ballyfitz, The Market Man and Killyglen. The latter is lightly raced and shouldn’t be written off too soon. He was handled sympathetically by his rider here, when a mistake five out ended any slim chance he still had.
2008 Royal and SunAlliance Chase Review
A relatively small but select field was well strung out by the time the leaders turned for home suggesting that the ground was still on the soft side. In addition, a number of the main protagonists ruined their chances with some poor jumping, not least Air Force One who is probably better than his finishing position of fifth suggests given the mistakes he made at crucial stages of the race.
By contrast, ALBERTAS RUN got into a nice rhythm over this longer trip and could be named the winner some way out. He clearly idles in front, and only just does enough, and so is value for far more than the victory margin of 4½ lengths.
He is a strapping sort who could still be improving physically and stamina seems to be his forte as he is an out and out stayer. In winning, he put to bed the jinx of Reynoldstown winners who have failed to win this race for 27 years.
He is at home on a better surface than this, but he’ll probably need to improve significantly to take a hand in next year’s Gold Cup, especially given the trend for Gold Cup winners these days to be blessed with speed, as well as stamina.
Roll Along was doing all his best work at the end to justify the huge faith his trainer has in him. He was suited by the step up in trip here and given his relative lack of experience he is entitled to improve more than most next season.
Battlecry ran his heart out in third, but was exhausted at the finish. He chased the early pace (set by the disappointing Joe Lively) before taking it up four out and making a bold bid for home. He would certainly have preferred better ground, which would also have helped him see out the trip.
Silverburn also failed to stay and faded to finish fourth after bowling along in the lead in the back straight. A drop back to 2½ miles is on the cards and a big handicap at that distance would be a likely target for him next season.
Starzaan ran much better than the bare form suggests as he was going well when uprooting the ditch four out, which stopped him in his tracks.
2007 Royal and SunAlliance Chase Review
One of the bankers of the meeting put up one of the performances of the meeting as DENMAN routed a top class field of staying novice chasers to win the Royal and Sun Alliance Chase in scintillating fashion.
There were very few scares for his legion of supporters as the winner was up with the leaders from the off and jumped well throughout. He is a relentless galloper and his only blemish was to run wide on the bend after the enclosure, forfeiting his lead to Aces Four in the process. However, that rival made a hash of the third last and from then on it was one way traffic as Denman simply ran his rivals ragged. He even seemed to idle on the run in, otherwise the victory margin would have been greater.
He is a great prospect for next season and a clash with My Way De Solzen, Exotic Dancer and, of course, Kauto Star already has national hunt fans wishing away the days until next year’s Festival.
Snowy Morning was the one to emerge from the pack to chase the winner home. He was being pushed along vigorously at the top of the hill and just didn’t have the pace to go with the leaders when it really mattered. However, he wasn’t helped by losing his place when he was hampered by the fall of Cailin Alainn. He would surely have finished closer to the winner had he been able to be ridden nearer to the pace. He is improving fast and is still lightly raced.
According To John ran a cracker in third, bouncing back to form on decent ground that clearly suits him. This was more like the horse who won his first six starts under rules. He was up with the pace for much of the race, as was the fourth Aces Four who was one of the few horses to mix it with the winner at the head of the field for any length of time.
As already mentioned, Aces Four made a terrible mistake three out, losing any chance he had in the process. It appeared that the mistake was a sign of tiredness and of him cracking under the immense pressure Denman was putting on his rivals. However, after also blundering at the second last, he stayed on remarkably well and was unlucky to lose third on the line. Aside from the winner, his was probably the most noteworthy performance of the race.
Gazza’s Girl (who’d prefer softer ground) and Ungaro (who travelled well for a long way but could never get to the leaders), both ran respectably, without ever threatening the winner. However, Dom D’Orgeval and Royal Rosa were both disappointing – both seem very one paced and probably need a thorough test of stamina to be at their best.
2006 Royal and SunAlliance Chase Review
STAR DE MOHAISON’S victory in the Sun Alliance Chase meant that owner Sir Robert Ogden landed the second leg of a rare novice chase double after Voy Por Ustedes won the Irish Independent Arkle Chase 24 hours earlier.
What was so impressive about this performance was the five year old’s spectacular jumping, which meant that, unlike many of his rivals, he was able to stay on the bridle, travelling well within himself, for much of the three mile plus trip. Given his tender years, the winner can only improve again next season, and he seemed to relish the step up in trip and better ground here, all of which bodes well for a crack at next year’s Gold Cup. He was given a quote of 20-1 for that race immediately after his success here.
They were well strung out behind the winner with Idle Talk (second), Darkness (third) and Lord Killeshanra (fourth) all looking one paced and in need of an even stiffer test of stamina. The runner up looks a future National horse in the making, whereas Darkness spoilt his chance with some sloppy jumping – he did well to finish as close to the leaders as he did.
Perhaps not surprisingly, there were a number of casualties in the race including the well fancied Our Ben who got no further than the third. Three horses also fell two out. The Listener was outpaced and not making any impression on the leaders when coming to grief. However, Bold Bishop and, in particular, Back In Front were much more unlucky and could well have been involved in the finish.
Back In Front was joint favourite for last year's Champion Hurdle so he clearly had the requisite ability to run a big race if his stamina held out. He was upsides the winner three out, looking a real threat, but was being ridden and the best part of two lengths down, when he sprawled badly on landing and lost his rider at the next. Compensation surely awaits, albeit possibly over a shorter trip.
AP McCoy was unseated from Bold Bishop when his mount swerved to try to avoid the melee at the same fence. He was staying on well at the time and would probably have been placed. The horse seems to run well at Cheltenham.
Of the rest, Bewleys Berry ran better than his finishing position suggests, whilst Commercial Flyer was a huge disappointment and another horse from the Martin Pipe stable to run poorly. This quickly became a Festival to forget for the champion trainer.
Roll of Honour (1946-1988)
(recent winners detailed towards top of page)
Sun Alliance Chase 1974-96, Totalisator Champion Chase 1971-73, Totalisator Champion Novices’ Chase 1964-1970, Broadway Chase 1961-63, Broadway Novices’ Chase before 1961.
1988 The West Awake 7-11-04 Simon Sherwood Oliver Sherwood 11/4F
1987 Kildimo 7-11-04 Graham Bradley Toby Balding 13/2
1986 Cross Master 9-11-04 Reg Crank Tom Bill 16/1
1985 Antarctic Bay 8-11-04 Frank Berry Pat Hughes IRE 6/4F
1984 A Kinsman 8-11-04 Geordie Dun John Brockbank 10/1
1983 Canny Danny 7-11-04 Niall Madden Jimmy FitzGerald 33/1
1982 Brown Chamberlin 7-11-04 John Francome Fred Winter 7/1
1981 Lesley Ann 7-11-04 Colin Brown David Elsworth 25/1
1980 Lacson 8-11-04 Steve Knight Bob Hawker 16/1
1979 Master Smudge 7-11-04 Richard Hoare Arthur Barrow 16/1
1978 Sweet Joe 6-11-04 Steve Smith Eccles Tom Jones 12/1
1977 Gay Spartan 6-11-04 Michael Dickinson Tony Dickinson 13/2
1976 Tied Cottage 8-11-00 Tommy Carberry Dan Moore IRE 12/1
1975 Pengrail 7-11-00 John Francome Fred Winter 12/1
1974 Ten Up 7-11-00 Tommy Carberry Jim Dreaper IRE 7/2
1973 Killiney 7-11-03 Richard Pitman Fred Winter 8/15F
1972 Clever Scot 7-11-07 David Mould Tom Jones 11/1
1971 Tantalum 7-11-07 David Nicholson Michael Pope 14/1
1970 Proud Tarquin 7-11-12 Pat Taaffe Tom Dreaper IRE 100/7
1969 Spanish Steps 6-11-12 John Cook Edward Courage 100/8
1968 Herring Gull 6-11-12 Joe Crowley Paddy Mullins IRE 9/1
1967 Border Jet 7-11-00 Josh Gifford Ryan Price 4/1F
1966 Different Class 6-11-12 David Mould Peter Cazalet 10/1
1965 Arkloin 6-11-07 Liam McLoughlin Tom Dreaper IRE 100/7
1964 Buona Notte 7-12-04 Johnnie Haine Bob Turnell 11/8F
1963 Arkle 6-12-04 Pat Taaffe Tom Dreaper IRE 4/9F
1962 Caduval 7-11-08 Laurie Morgan Bogden Lubecki 11/2
1961 Grallagh Cnoc 7-12-01 Pat Taaffe Joe Osborne IRE 8/13F
1960 Solfen 8-11-12 Pat Taaffe Willie O’Grady IRE 5/4F
1959 Mac Joy 7-11-12 Arthur Freeman Ken Bailey 4/1
1958 Just Awake 6-11-08 Arthur Freeman Peter Cazalet 100/7
1957 Mandarin 6-12-01 Michael Scudamore Fulke Walwyn 8/1
1956 Polar Flight 6-11-08 Tommy Cusack George Spann 100/7
1955 Great Eliza 7-11-13 B Cooper Danny Morgan IRE 7/2F
1954 Glenbeigh 8-11-13 Dave Dick Fulke Walwyn EvsF
1953 Coneyburrow 7-11-03 Pat Taaffe Joe Osborne IRE 100/8
1952 Good And Plenty 8-11-08 Jimmy Power Jack Fawcus 8/1
1951 On View 8-11-13 Bryan Marshall Fulke Walwyn 8/1
1950 (I) Manicou 5-11-06 Lord Mildmay Peter Cazalet 2/1F
1950 (II) Arctic Gold 5-10-13 Glen Kelly Gerald Balding 100/30
1949 (I) Glen Fire 6-11-02 Mr J Spencer Syd Mercer 100/8
1949 (II) Comeragh 8-11-02 D Kelly Major Noel Furlong 10/1
1948 (I) Blakely Grove 7-11-04 Joe Maguire Ivor Anthony 5/4F
1948 (II) Mountain Prince 9-11-04 Bryan Marshall Fulke Walwyn 100/8
1947 No race (snow and frost)
1946 Birthlaw 11-11-07 Ted Vinall Tommy Rayson 20/1