ULTIMA HANDICAP CHASE

The Ultima Handicap Chase is the first handicap of the week at the Festival and it always attracts a large, competitive field.

Grade 3 | 5yo+ | Tuesday 14.50 
3 miles 1 furlong | 20 fences | Old Course
Weight: 10st - 11st 12lb (handicap)
Prize money (2022): £125,000 | 1st: £70,338

Originally the National Hunt Handicap Chase, it was known as the Ritz Club from 1981 to 1996 and has had various sponsors since, including Ultima Business Solutions from 2015.

It often ends up being a real test of stamina due to a strong end to end gallop and thus it is seen as a good Grand National trial.

Horses to have won both races include West Tip, Seagram and Rough Quest.

Noble Yeats finished 9th in the Ultima in 2022 before going on to win the National the following month.

9 of the last 11 winners wore headgear
10 of the last 13 winners ran at Cheltenham earlier that season
2 Irish trained winners since 1967 (the last in 2006)
15 of the last 22 winners were aged either 7 or 8
1 of the last 23 winners were the top weight
6 of the last 9 winners returned at between 8/1 & 11/1
3 of the last 43 favourites won
Updated to include 2022 renewal

As with many Festival races, previous course form is key: 3 of the last 4 winners (Corach Rambler, Beware The Bear & The Conditional) won at Cheltenham earlier that season.

Novices and second season chasers have tended to do well, not least because they may be less exposed from a handicapping perspective than more experienced rivals.

Un Temps Pour Tout in 2017 is the only horse to carry top weight to victory in this race since Unguided Missile in 1998.

He was also the first back-to-back winner since Scot Lane in 1983, with Sentina (1957/58) the only other dual winner.

Meanwhile, you have to go back to 2006 for the last Irish-trained winner, when Dun Doire won for Tony Martin.

Coo Star Sivola (2018) and Wichita Lineman (2009) are the only winning favourites this century, both at 5/1.

In fact, only three favourites have won this race since 1977 (also Antonin in 1994 at 4/1).

But 6 of the last 9 winners have returned at between 8/1 and 11/1.

In 2021 Vintage Clouds won in first-time cheekpieces, adding to the recent success of horses wearing either cheekpieces or blinkers.

Four times in the last 11 years this has included the 1-2, while in 2016 it was 1-2-3 (the Trifecta paid £2,025).

LAST 5 WINNERS’ DATA

YEAR
AGE
OFFICIAL RATING
WEIGHT
2022
8
140
10-2
2021
11
143
10-11
2020
8
139
10-6
2019
9
151
11-8
2018
6
142
10-10

RECENT WINNERS

YEAR
WINNER
JOCKEY / TRAINER
SP
2022
Corach Rambler
Derek Fox / Lucinda Russell
10/1
2021
Vintage Clouds
Ryan Mania / Sue Smith
28/1
2020
The Conditional
Brendan Powell / David Bridgwater
15/2
2019
Beware The Bear
Jeremiah McGrath / Nicky Henderson
10/1
2018
Coo Star Sivola
Lizzie Kelly / Nick Williams
5/1f
2017
Un Temps Pour Tout
Tom Scudamore / David Pipe
9/1
2016
Un Temps Pour Tout
Tom Scudamore / David Pipe
11/1
2015
The Druids Nephew
Barry Geraghty / Neil Mulholland
8/1
2014
Holywell
Richie McLernon / Jonjo O'Neill
10/1
2013
Golden Chieftain
Brendan Powell / Colin Tizzard
28/1
2012
Alfie Sherrin
Richie McLernon / Jonjo O'Neill
14/1
2011
Bensalem
Robert Thornton / Alan King
5/1
2010
Chief Dan George
Paddy Aspell / James Moffatt
33/1
2009
Wichita Lineman
Tony McCoy / Jonjo O'Neill
5/1f
2008
An Accordion
Tom Scudamore / David Pipe
7/1
2007
Joes Edge
Davy Russell / Ferdy Murphy
50/1
2006
Dun Doire
Ruby Walsh / Tony Martin
7/1
2005
Kelami
Robert Thornton / François Doumen
8/1
2004
Fork Lightning
Robert Thornton / Alan King
7/1
2003
Youlneverwalkalone
Barry Geraghty / Christy Roche
7/1
2002
Frenchman's Creek
Paul Carberry / Hughie Morrison
8/1
2001

Festival Cancelled

2000
Marlborough
Mick Fitzgerald / Nicky Henderson
11/2

Slowly away and still well adrift three out, Corach Rambler came with a late surge to win the Ultima Handicap Chase in 2022.

It was a first Cheltenham Festival winner for jockey Derek Fox and a second for trainer Lucinda Russell:

‘WHEN HE MISSED THE START I TURNED TO ONE OF THE OWNERS AND SAID WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO HAVE A VINTAGE DEREK FOX HOLD-UP RIDE - AND WE DID. IT WAS PERFECT’

Vintage Clouds won the Ultima Chase on his fifth attempt at the race in 2021.

The eleven-year-old, who finshed second in 2019, sealed the deal with a fantastic leap at the last for jockey Ryan Mania:

‘WE WERE CONFIDENT HE WOULD RUN HIS RACE AS HE ALWAYS DOES - HE’S A REAL DETERMINED WARRIOR’

The Conditional gave David Bridgwater his first Festival winner as a trainer in 2020, despite a dreadful blunder two out.

As a jockey he rode five Festival winners, the last of which was in this race in 1997.

It was a third Festival winner and a second win of this race for jockey Brendan Powell, who was on the comeback trail after a few years in the doldrums:

‘THIS ONE MEANS A LOT MORE TO ME THAN MY FIRST TWO’

Beware The Bear produced a big leap at the last and then held off a late challenge from Vintage Clouds in the 2019 Ultima Chase.

It was Jeremiah McGrath's first victory at the Festival since 2012 (aboard Une Artiste in the Fred Winter Hurdle):

‘IT’S BEEN SEVEN YEARS SINCE I LAST WON HERE, AND I DIDN’T REALLY APPRECIATE IT AT THE TIME’

Coo Star Sivola landed a big gamble in 2018, with conditional jockey Lizzie Kelly riding for her stepfather Nick Williams.

She was thus the first female professional jockey to win a race at the Festival:

‘THAT WAS LIKE THE LONGEST HILL IN THE WORLD - I WAS HALF-WATCHING THE CAMERA SO I COULD SEE WHAT WAS COMING’

Un Temps Pour Tout 2017

Un Temps Pour Tout 2016

The Druids Nephew 2015

In 2014 the Jonjo O'Neill trained Holywell secured back-to-back Festival wins, having won the Pertemps Final 12 months earlier.

The small but brave gelding went on to finish fourth in the 2015 Gold Cup and then runner-up back in this race in 2016.

‘I ACTUALLY FELL OUT WITH THE HANDICAPPER AFTER HE GAVE HIM A MARK OF 145 RECENTLY, BUT IT LOOKS LIKE HE WAS PROBABLY RIGHT’

Golden Chieftain 2013

Looking further back, there was a classic finish in 2009 when the great AP McCoy refused to accept defeat.

He coaxed Wichita Lineman to victory with a late surge past Maljimar - still considered by many to be the best ride in the history of the Cheltenham Festival:

‘I KNEW HE’D COME HOME WELL IF I COULD JUST GIVE HIM A CHANCE BY KEEPING CLOSE ENOUGH...YOU HAVE TO KEEP THEM RUNNING AND FINISHING RATHER THAN FORCING THEM AND THEN FALLING IN A HOLE’

While in 2002, Paul Carberry memorably gave Frenchman's Creek a superb ride, timing his charge to perfection to overhaul long-time leader Carbury Cross on the run-in:

PREVIOUS WINNERS

YEAR
WINNER
JOCKEY / TRAINER
SP
1999
Betty's Boy
Norman Williamson / Kim Bailey
25/1
1998
Unguided Missile
Paul Carberry / Gordon Richards
10/1
1997
Flyer's Nap
David Bridgwater / Robert Alner
20/1
1996
Maamur
Andrew Thornton / Tim Forster
13/2
1995
Rough Quest
Mick Fitzgerald / Terry Casey
16/1
1994
Antonin
John Burke / Sue Bramall
4/1f
1993
Givus A Buck
Paul Holley / David Elsworth
11/2
1992
Tipping Tim
Carl Llewellyn / Nigel Twiston-Davies
20/1
1991
Seagram
Nigel Hawke / David Barons
6/1
1990
Bigsun
Richard Dunwoody / David Nicholson
15/2
1989
Dixton House
Tom Morgan / John Edwards
13/2
1988
Aquilifer
Paul Croucher / David Murray Smith
9/2
1987
Gainsay
Ben de Haan / Jenny Pitman
10/1
1986
Charter Party
Peter Scudamore / David Nicholson
12/1
1985
West Tip
Richard Dunwoody / Michael Oliver
6/1
1984
Tracys Special
Steve Knight / Andrew Turnell
5/1
1983
Scot Lane
Craig Smith / Martin Tate
20/1
1982
Scot Lane
Craig Smith / Martin Tate
15/2
1981
Current Gold
Neale Doughty / Gordon Richards
10/1
1980
Again the Same
Jim Wilson / John Edwards
10/1
1979
Fair View
Ridley Lamb / George Fairbairn
12/1
1978

No Race

1977
Gay Vulgan
Bill Smith / Fulke Walwyn
4/1f
1976
Barmer
Jimmy McNaught / Robin Blakeney
20/1
1975
King Flame
John Francome / Richard Head
12/1
1974
Cuckolder
Andrew Turnell / Bob Turnell
6/1
1973
The Chisler
Michael Dickinson / Tony Dickinson
6/1
1972
Jomon
David Mould / Harry Thomson Jones
8/1
1971
Lord Jim
Johnny Haine / Fulke Walwyn
8/1
1970
Charter Flight
Andrew Turnell / Bob Turnell
100/8
1969
Chancer
Pat McCarron / Charlie Hall
6/1f
1968
Battledore
Kit Stobbs / Arthur Stephenson
3/1f
1967
Different Class
David Mould / Peter Cazalet
13/2
1966
Arkloin
Pat Taaffe / Tom Dreaper
5/2f
1965
Rondetto
Johnny Haine / Bob Turnell
11/2
1964
Prudent Barney
Terry Biddlecombe / Bobby Renton
10/1
1963
Team Spirit
Willie Robinson / Fulke Walwyn
100/8
1962
Longtail
Stan Mellor / Dick Curran
100/7
1961
Ravencroft
Fred Winter / Fulke Walwyn
9/2
1960
Isle of Skye
Tony Keen / Alec Kilpatrick
100/8
1959
Winning Coin
Dave Dick / George Beeby
100/9
1958
Sentina
Tom Taaffe / Tom Dreaper
7/1
1957
Sentina
Pat Taaffe / Tom Dreaper
3/1f
1956
Kerstin
George Milburn / Verly Bewicke
100/9
1955
Limber Hill
Tim Molony / Bill Dutton
7/1
1954
Holly Bank
Peter Brookshaw / Fred Rimell
7/2f
1953
Four Ten
Tommy Cusack / John Roberts
4/1
1952
Royal Tan
Phonsie O'Brien / Vincent O'Brien
7/2f
1951*
Land Fort
Johnny Bullock / Fred Rimell
8/1
1950
Silver Fame
Martin Molony / George Beeby
5/4f
1949
Frere Jacques II
Ted Vinall / Fred Rimell
20/1
1948
Cavaliero
Ted Vinall / Fred Rimell
7/1
1947

No Race

1946
Dunshaughlin
Bobby O'Ryan / Charles Rogers
7/1


No Race (1943-1945)

1942
The Hack
M. Jones / Tim Hamey
100/8
1941
Forward
Herbert Applin / Sonny Hall
20/1
1940
Kilstar
George Archibald / Owen Anthony
8/1
1939
Masquery
Jack Moloney / Jack Anthony
10/1
1938
Teme Willow
Fred Rimell / Tom Rimell
10/1
1937
Teme Willow
Jack Fawcus / Tom Rimell
3/1f
1936
Avenger
Fred Rimell / Tom Rimell
6/4f
1935
Tapinois
Fred Gurney / Francis Hurt
100/8
1934
Francolino
Patrick Fitzgerald / John Cockton
4/1f
1933
Society
G.P Shakerley / Frank Brown
11/2
1932
Quite Calm
Fred Gurney / Ben Roberts
10/1
1931

No Race

1930
Don Sancho
Jack Moloney / Fred Withington
100/7
1929
Donzelon
G. Turner / Gerald Foljambe
20/1
1928
Knockirr
Fred Gurney / G. Pease
100/8
1927
Herbert's Choice
Fred Gurney / Percy Woodland
8/1
1926
Sprig
W. Madden / Ted Leader
2/1f
1925
Vive
Jack Anthony / Aubrey Hastings
6/1
1924
Vaulx
Dick Rees / Charlie Piggott
4/1
1923
Alcazar
Dick Rees / George Poole
100/9
1922
Vaulx
Dick Rees / Charlie Piggott
4/1jf
1921
Garryvoe
Ivor Anthony / Aubrey Hastings
5/1
1920
Gerald L
Frank Dainty / Ted Gwilt
100/15


No Race (1915-1919)

1914
Red Coil
Isaac Morgan / Robert Collis
100/6
1913
Strangways
Jack Anthony / R.W Smith
100/9
1912
Great Cross
Robert Chadwick / Tom Coulthwaite
5/2f
1911
Autocar
William Payne / T. Costello
100/6
All winners prior to 2000

* Run at April meeting

The race was originally called the National Hunt Handicap Chase (not to be confused with the National Hunt Chase).

In 2005 it became known as the Festival Trophy Handicap Chase.

ULTIMA HANDICAP CHASE FAQ’s