The National Hunt Chase is run over a four mile trip and as such is the longest distance race held at the Festival. The race is for novice chases and amateur riders, and has come under scrutiny as some consider inexperienced jockeys, novicey horses and a four mile trip as a cocktail for carnage. To win horse and jockey will have to negotiate 24 fences on their journey, and while any five-year-old or above can enter only one five or six-year-old has won since 1989.
Eight different trainers have won the race since 2004, although before then Jonjo O’Neill had reeled off a treble of winners from 2002-2004. O’Neill also saddled Butler’s Cabin in 2007, but the 10-year-old Rith Dubh would be the most memorable of his winners having won hard on the bridle in 2002! Interestingly Rith Dubh is the only horse between 1999 and the present day to have won above the age of eight.
Teaforthree won the race in 2012 for up and coming trainer Rebecca Curtis, and was the second favourite in a row to get his head in front. He resumed his career the next season as one of the forefront in the betting for the Grand National at Aintree in April, and didn’t let his supporters down with a gallant run to finish third for connections.
With the first NH Chase being run way back in 1860 it is the second oldest race still held at the Festival. With staying chases the most important events in early day National Hunt racing, only the Grand National itself was considered a more important race than the NH Chase well into the 20th century. Plenty of now unfamiliar tracks held the race until it was settled permanently at Cheltenham in 1911 – places like Market Harborough, Bedford, Derby and Liverpool all took their turn playing host.
Although Jonjo has trained the winner five times, no jockey has ridden more than two winners in the race. Most recently top class amateur JT McNamara completed his double by steering home Teaforthree, and the familiar name W.P Mullins crops up twice in 1982 and 1984.
|2015||Cause Of Causes||7||G Elliott||8-1|
|2014||Midnight Prayer||9||A King||8-1|
|2013||Back In Focus||8||W Mullins||9-4F|
|2012||Teaforthree||8||Miss R Curtis||5-1F|
|2011||Chicago Grey||8||G Elliott||5-1F|
|2010||Poker De Sivola||7||F Murphy||14-1|
|2009||Tricky Trickster||6||N A Twiston-Davies||11-1|
|2008||Old Benny||7||A King||9-1|
|2007||Butlers Cabin||7||J O’Neill||33-1|
|2006||Hot Weld||7||F Murphy||33-1|
|2005||Another Rum||7||I Duncan||40-1|
|2004||Native Emperor||8||J O’Neill||5-1F|
|2003||Sudden Shock||8||J O’Neill||25-1|
|2002||Rith Dubh||10||J O’Neill||10-1|