Twenty fences over an extended three miles await a maximum field of twenty-four runners which mainly consist of real staying types. Many former Grand National runners as well as future Grand National runners end up running in this stamina sapping contest.
Despite attracting such large fields, the winner tends to be featured within the top four in the betting. Golden Chieftain was the biggest priced horse win this in the last decade at odds of 28/1 for Colin Tizzard and Brendan Powell.
The older horses seem to fare better than their younger rivals with eight and nine-year-olds faring particularly well, although ten-year-olds have only taken two of the last twenty renewals (Chief Dan George in 2010 and Joes Edge in 2007) and most horses come home in and around six minutes.
David Pipe and Jonjo O’Neill have fared well in this race in the past having won it three times apiece. Nicky Henderson and Alan King have won this handicap twice.
In what is quite an unbelievable stat only two Irish trained horses have won this race since the turn of the millennium (Youlneverwalkalone 2003 and Dun Doire in 2006).
In comparison, Nigel Twiston-Davies, Venetia Williams, Paul Nicholls, Philip Hobbs and Sue Smith have all tried to win this on multiple occasions and failed.
Richie McLernon and Brendan Powell have won the race more than once and both are likely to participate this year once more. Aidan Coleman has never won the race despite having had more than ten attempts.
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Previous Winners of the Ultima Handicap Chase
Runners To Watch
Below are selected runners who hold entries for Ultima Challenge Chase 2023.
Karl Hedley provides some recent form notes to help point you in the right direction of identifying the winner.
Remember to shop around as many bookmakers will offer enhanced place betting on this type of race.
CORACH RAMBLER – LUCINDA RUSSELL
Corach Rambler bids to win back-to-back renewals of this race. It was a feat achieved by Un Temps Pour Tout in 2016 and 2017 so it is not an impossible task.
He has only gone up six pounds in the ratings since taking this from Gericault Roque last season. He has been treated with kid gloves this time around and has not been seen on a racecourse since the end of November.
He has gone well when fresh in the past and he has to be high on any shortlist once again.
NASSALAM – GARY MOORE
Has already had a couple of practice runs for this so far this season. He ran a fair sixth in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last November before finishing a game and determined third in a similar handicap chase on New Years’ Day.
The big question that has to be asked is whether he will see out this extra half mile. The way he finished last time suggested he would but that cannot be guaranteed.
Jamie Moore is likely to be his pilot once again and they warrant consideration.
INTO OVERDRIVE – MARK WALFORD
Into Overdrive has really improved throughout the year. A winner of two Grade Three Premier Handicaps at Wetherby has seen him jump from a rating of 123 to high of 147 now.
He sees out this trip really well and is a really powerful staying type. The eight-year-old has built up a formidable partnership with Jamie Hamilton and no surprise to see them in the thick of the action.
A lack of experience around here will count against him compared to others though and that is the only negative.
THE GOFFER – GORDON ELLIOTT
Won an 80k handicap at the Dublin Racing Festival doing all of his best work late on. He has been put up nine pounds for that which seems incredibly harsh.
He has been tried over trips just short of this in the past over hurdles and failed to stay. The handicapper has had his say here and despite his consistency, it is hard to make a case for him.
The Irish don’t have a great record in this, and he is unlikely to improve that stat.
THREEUNDERTHRUFIVE – PAUL NICHOLLS
Threeunderthrufive hasn’t been in sparkling form this season and the handicapper is starting to relent a little.
He has had his sights lowered somewhat here by dropping into a handicap and it is a race that Paul Nicholls has won before.
He is a previous course and distance winner as he landed a novices’ chase here in November 2021.
He was no match for L’Homme Presse in the Brown Advisory last season, but this is a more feasible target. He has to be respected.
FASTORSLOW – MARTIN BRASSIL
Has been beaten a combined total of forty-seven lengths in the highest of company over fences the last twice. This is very much a drop in grade but he has shown nothing over fences to date.
Money may have come for him as he was a solid second in the County Hurdle last year but he needs to show much more ability over fences before you could consider him.
Others in this line-up are far more experienced and he may well pay the price.
HAPPYGOLUCKY – KIM BAILEY
May well find the race tougher than when finishing second to Corach Rambler twelve months ago. He now races off a five-pound higher mark.
He ran over far too short a trip last time out here and a return to three miles is certainly in his favour. That was the only time in five runs at the track that he finished outside of the first four.
Kim Bailey is likely to have him cherry ripe on the day and he cannot be fully discounted.
MONBEG GENIUS – JONJO O’NEILL
Comes here in search of a four timer having won at Newcastle and twice at Chepstow. Those wins came over a trip just shy of this.
He will have his work cut out for him here as not only is it the toughest race of his career to date, but also as a front runner, he may not get his own way out in front.
No previous experience of this track may well count against him but Jonjo O’Neill has won this three times in the past. He can’t be fully written off but more improvement needed.
REMASTERED – DAVID PIPE
Looked better than ever this season gaining two wins. Those victories came on flat tracks such as Aintree and Kempton and he seems best suited to them.
He was beaten a long way by Galvin on the only other occasion that he ran at this track in the National Hunt Chase despite being well fancied.
He has to prove that he is fully over his most recent exertions at Sandown as he pulled up in a handicap over hurdles won by Green Book. The jury is out with him.
KARL PHILLIPE – FERGAL O’BRIEN
Has improved hand over fist for going chasing and has won his three times this term including twice at Ludlow and again at Wetherby.
He had a prep for this when upped into Grade Three company at this track last time out. This is as far as he will ever have travelled in a race so his ability to see out the trip has to be taken on trust.
The stable isn’t really firing at present and he is passed over this time.
Ticks The Right Boxes?
2023 Ultima Handicap Chase Tips & Key Trends
Corach Rambler looks to have been well prepared for this once again and he should make a bold attempt to win back to back renewals under Dominic Fox.
The nine-year-old has not been seen since finishing fourth to Le Milos in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury back in November, but he has won following similar breaks in the past.
He is only a few pounds higher in the ratings than when taking this last year and no surprise at all to see him go in again.
Monbeg Genius needs a few to come out here in order to get a run and Jonjo O’Neill is a multiple winning trainer of this race. Should he run he looks destined to go well at a double figure price.
- 9 of the last ten winners have worn headgear
- 11 of the past 14 winners finished in the first four on their previous start
- Only 2 Irish trained winners in the last 53 renewals
Odds With Betfred – correct at time of publication
- 13/2 Corach Rambler
- 7/1 Into Overdrive
- 8/1 Nassalam
- 10/1 Oscar Elite
- 10/1 Fastorslow
- 12/1 The Goffer
- 12/1 Monbeg Genius
- 14/1 Threeunderthrufive
- 14/1 Happygolucky
- 14/1 The Big Breakaway
- 16/1 Remastered
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