Tips For The Ultima Handicap Chase 2024 – How To Pick A Winner

tips for the ultima

Twenty-three runners are set to tackle an extended three-mile course, navigating twenty fences, primarily featuring seasoned stayers. Below are our best tips for the Ultima in 2024.

This gruelling contest often sees former Grand National contenders, as well as those eyeing future Nationals, among its ranks.

Despite its large field, the victor typically emerges from the top four favourites. Notably, Golden Chieftain secured the biggest upset in the past decade, triumphing at odds of 28/1 under Colin Tizzard and Brendan Powell.

Older horses tend to excel, with eight and nine-year-olds particularly strong performers, although ten-year-olds have claimed victory only twice in the last twenty editions (Chief Dan George in 2010 and Joes Edge in 2007), with most races completed in around six minutes.

David Pipe and Jonjo O’Neill have each enjoyed success in this race, with three wins apiece, while Nicky Henderson, Lucinda Russell and Alan King have secured victory twice in this handicap.

Remarkably, only two Irish-trained horses have clinched victory since the year 2000 (Youlneverwalkalone in 2003 and Dun Doire in 2006).

Conversely, Nigel Twiston-Davies, Venetia Williams, Paul Nicholls, Philip Hobbs, and Sue Smith have all made multiple attempts to win but fell short.

Richie McLernon and Brendan Powell boast multiple victories and are expected to contend again this year. Despite more than ten attempts, Aidan Coleman has yet to secure a win in this race.

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.

MEETINGOFTHEWATERS – WILLIE MULLINS

While not particularly remarkable as a hurdler, this horse has truly excelled in his last two outings as a chaser.

He secured victory in a beginners’ race at Cork over an extended two-and-a-half miles before delivering a commanding performance to triumph over 11 rivals in a significant handicap at Leopardstown over three miles post-Christmas.

Surprisingly, a hood (which remains on today) was added for his subsequent race, where he unfortunately encountered interference and unseated the rider at the first fence.

However, there’s still plenty of potential for him to develop as a staying chaser, and he thrives on soft ground conditions.

THE GOFFER – GORDON ELLIOTT

Impressively finishing fourth in this race last year, he only yielded after the final obstacle.

There’s speculation that he may have experienced breathing difficulties, as he has been fitted with a tongue tie since September.

Despite a steady late push in the Kerry National over three miles, he displayed a less prominent performance at Limerick in his subsequent outing and was subsequently rested.

However, he returned triumphantly last month, securing a victory in a race for stable staff.

Now, he appears ready for a strong showing, carrying a weight 2 pounds lighter than his mark from a year ago.

CHIANTI CLASSICO – KIM BAILEY

Having pulled up in the Albert Bartlett last March, he boasted a flawless record of 3 wins in 3 hurdles outings prior.

However, his performances in handicap chasing this season have overshadowed those achievements.

He demonstrated impeccable fence-measuring abilities in victories at Chepstow and Ascot before impressing with his weight performance against a competitive field over three miles at Kempton last month.

With the prospect of a more demanding challenge, he appears poised to continue his progression and emerges as a strong contender for this upcoming race.

STUMPTOWN – GAVIN CROMWELL

He enjoyed a successful period in early 2023, marked by a close loss in the Kim Muir at this event. However, he appeared to lose focus in his subsequent four races.

The introduction of blinkers revitalized his performance, leading to a commanding victory here in January.

If the headgear continues to have a positive effect, he shouldn’t be discounted, although it’s worth noting he now carries a 13-pound higher weight than he did a year ago.

TRELAWNE – KIM BAILEY

All races have been conducted on soft or heavy ground. Last March, he secured his third victory out of four attempts over hurdles in a 2 mile 7 furlong handicap, demonstrating an impressive lead.

Transitioning to fences, he has primarily raced at around two-and-a-half miles, claiming victory on his chase debut and delivering a commendable performance with a keeping-on third position against strong competition here in December.

He has shown promise in his two subsequent outings, including the latest one where he wore cheek-pieces, which are re-applied today.

Given the stamina test of this upcoming race, he appears to be a solid contender.

MONBEG GENIUS – JONJO O’NEILL

Initially, he seemed poised for significant achievements upon transitioning to chasing, and the quality of his close third-place finish in this race last year showcased his potential.

He performed admirably when securing third place in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury in December, indicating he was operating at his peak.

However, recent events have not unfolded as expected, culminating in a fatigued performance at Kelso ten days ago.

Substantial uncertainties have emerged, but there’s a glimmer of hope as cheek-pieces are now introduced, and it’s worth noting that the yard has claimed victory in this race on three occasions.

WEVEALLBEENCAUGHT – NIGEL TWISTON – DAVIES

Possessing prior experience on the course over hurdles, he demonstrated commendable performance in the Albert Bartlett here last March, avoiding disgrace.

Naturally inclined towards chasing, he made a promising introduction to fences, finishing third out of four runners over three miles here in October.

Despite not maintaining momentum in his subsequent two outings, including a disappointing handicap debut in December, his initial form positions him as a contender.

The addition of a tongue-tie upon his return from a break could also enhance his performance.

FAMOUS BRIDGE – NICKY RICHARDS

His most notable chase victories have occurred over approximately 3 miles and 1 furlong on soft and heavy ground.

However, he experienced a setback, pulling up on good ground at Doncaster in his most recent outing.

Today’s conditions are expected to be favourable, but the increase in class presents a greater challenge for him.

MINELLA CROONER – GORDON ELLIOTT

Displaying commendable chase form as a novice, he struggled in the National Hunt Chase at this venue last year.

However, he regained momentum with a victory in a listed race upon his return.

That was followed by an improved performance with a solid third-place finish in a Grade 3 event at Tramore on New Year’s Day.

Although his performance hasn’t been consistently strong before and after these races, there are still possibilities for him to excel.

TWIG – BEN PAULING

Finishing second in all three appearances at this course, twice in hurdling events and once over the course and distance, which came after a victorious return to fences at Uttoxeter last July.

However, he encountered difficulties from quite early on in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury in December and remains on the same rating since then.

ELDORADO ALLEN – JOE TIZZARD

Having participated in the past four Festivals, he secured a second-place finish in the Arkle in 2021 and claimed third in the Ryanair in 2022.

He continued to demonstrate merit with a respectable fourth-place finish in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury in December.

However, he faces a substantial weight burden, and his performance was underwhelming off a lower hurdle mark in January.

Subsequently, he underwent wind surgery, and cheek-pieces are reintroduced for the first time since last April.

EXCELLO – NICKY HENDERSON

A winner of a chase in France last March, he showed potential by securing victory at Ascot in December, his second start for this stable.

However, he fell short of expectations in a competitive two-and-a-half mile handicap here in January, despite starting at relatively short odds, and now faces a significant challenge with this substantial increase in distance.

VICTTORINO – VENETIA WILLIAMS

He kicked off his chase career in Britain impressively by securing victories in a pair of three-mile handicaps at Ascot before Christmas.

However, his performance in his most recent outing, finishing nearly five lengths behind over the same distance at the same venue just 24 days ago, suggests a lack of acceleration.

This upcoming race appears to present a much tougher challenge for him.

RUN WILD FRED – GORDON ELLIOTT

He achieved his only chase victory out of 19 attempts back in 2021. Four months later, he secured a runner-up position in the National Hunt Chase at this venue.

Despite this, his performance in his two most recent completed runs leaves much to be desired, and he suffered a fall at Fairyhouse last month.

BUSSELTON – JOSEPH O’BRIEN

He has consistently performed well in numerous competitive races, although his most recent victory dates back to the Kerry National in October 2022.

Over the past 12 months, he has seldom displayed his peak form and would benefit from a drier ground condition.

CHAMBARD – VENETIA WILLIAMS

Secured victory in the Kim Muir at this venue in 2022 over a distance of three-and-a-quarter miles on soft ground.

Although he is now advancing in years, he demonstrated his enduring ability by achieving a commendable second-place finish over the course and distance on soft ground.

That was followed by a remarkable triumph over the challenging Aintree fences in December, covering a distance of three-and-a-quarter miles.

His performances have been less impressive since then, and he currently carries a high handicap mark.

EKLAT DE RIRE – HENRY DE BROMHEAD

Formerly a proficient chaser in his earlier career, although he has seen limited racing recently and had encountered difficulties until displaying an improved performance at Fairyhouse last month.

Should that race mark his return to form, he appears to be favorably treated, although his optimal performances have historically been on challenging ground conditions.

HIGHLAND HUNTER – FERGAL O’BRIEN

A resilient long-distance runner, he secured second place in the 2021 Welsh National.

Following a 20-month hiatus after his subsequent race, he swiftly regained his form under new management, showcasing his renewed vigor by dominating the field at Newbury just ten days ago.

However, the imposition of a penalty now pushes him to a career-best rating, posing a significant challenge for him to contend with at this competitive level.

KITTY’S LIGHT – CHRISTIAN WILLIAMS

He dominated the staying chase scene last spring, claiming victories in the Eider Chase, the Scottish National, and the bet365 Gold Cup.

While his hurdle performances have been less impressive recently, they can be forgiven, but he would have fared better in the Coral Gold Cup in December had he been in peak condition.

A reversal of fortunes is necessary, especially now that the tongue-tie is re-instated following one run without it.

GEVREY – GORDON ELLIOTT

Adaptable in terms of distance, he demonstrated his versatility by finishing strongly to claim fourth place in the Plate at this venue last March.

Subsequently, he secured a runner-up position in the Irish National, indicating continued progress.

Despite showing signs of improvement with a victory in the Munster National in October, two instances of being pulled up in subsequent races have dampened optimism for his upcoming challenge.

LORD DU MESNIL – RICHARD HOBSON

He has showcased solid performances on this course, notably securing a runner-up position in the National Hunt Chase in 2020.

However, his streak of losses extends back three years, and there are other contenders, who appear to possess stronger credentials at this level.

FOUND ON – MARTIN KEIGHLEY

She boasts six victories in chases, with distances of up to three miles, yet most of these wins occurred on good ground.

While she did succeed on heavy going as a hurdler, she seldom encounters such conditions in her current chasing career.

Consequently, other contenders are deemed more suitable for slow surfaces.

RISK AND ROLL – JAMES EVANS

He performs effectively at this venue, as evidenced by his respectable ninth-place finish in the Pertemps Final at the Festival last March.

However, it’s essential to note that his sole chase victory since then occurred in a less competitive event at Uttoxeter in September.

Ticks The Right Boxes?

Tips For The Ultima Handicap Chase 2024 With Key Trends

A horse that finds himself in peak form coming into this race is STUMPTOWN.

The Gavin Cromwell trained seven-year-old bounced back to winning ways by scoring over this course and distance back on New Years Day.

He also ran well at this meeting last year when finding only Angels Dawn a neck too good in the Kim Muir. He seems to like the track and granted luck in running, has to go close.

Another that could potentially be chucked in is Eklat De Rire.

The Henry De Bromhead posted his best result in quite some time most recently and is now beginning to look dangerously well handicapped.

With Rachael Blackmore in the saddle, the pair have to command respect.

Key Trends

  • 10 of the past 14 winners had run at Cheltenham earlier in the season
  • 9 of the past 12 winners wore headgear
  • 5 of the past 10 winners were novices
  • 12 of the past 16 winners finished in the first 4 on their previous start (6 won)



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