ULTIMA HANDICAP CHASE

The Ultima Handicap Chase (Festival Trophy) is the first handicap of the week 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

Known as the Ritz Club during the ‘80s and ‘90s, the race has been sponsored by Ultima Business Solutions since 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 / A J 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 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 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.

But it was a second win of this race for jockey Brendan Powell:

Beware The Bear produced a big leap at the last to beat Vintage Clouds in 2019:

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

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

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

Wicheta Lineman's stamina began to kick in up the hill and the pair overcame Maljimar by a neck - to the delight of of those who had sent him off as the 5/1 favourite:

While in 2002, Paul Carberry memorably gave Frenchman's Creek a superb ride: