Festival Plate Handicap Chase Race Card

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Fifth race of St Patricks Day

The Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase is a Grade Three race that is run over 2 and a half miles.

Over the 2 and half mile distance, there is 17 fences on the new course for the runners to jump. Horses must be aged five or older to get into the race, with handicap marks changing each year in terms of the barrier to be in the final field.

There is prize money of £61,000 to the winner.

History of the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase

The race was first introduced to the festival in 1951 and there was a drama, with both Canford and Slender crossing the line together, meaning there was a dead heat in the inaugural running.

The race was in memory of Andy Bingham, the 2nd Baron Mildmay of Flete. Bingham was an amateur National Hunt jockey, who was a three-time winner at the Festival and hence the original title of the race was the Mildmay of Flete Handicap Chase.

In 2006, trade paper Racing Post took sponsorship of the race and for three runnings up until 2008, i was named the Racing Post Plate. 2009 was ran in memory of Scottish bookmaker, Freddie Williams who died in 2008. Williams often had a pitch at the festival. Byrne Group then took over until 2014, when they were placed by Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable, who still have naming rights for 2020.

Recent years

Siruh Du Lac was an all the way winner in 2019 for Lizzie Kelly and Nick Williams and the pair ended three years of Irish Dominance.

The great Fred Winter does hold the record for the most wins in the race, with three although one was a dead heat. Richard Johnson and Bryan Cooper have two wins to there name so would only need one to join Winter, who won the race with the following horses:

Fred Winter:

Slender (1951, dead-heat)

Sy Oui (1953)

Caesar's Helm (1958)

2019 was a first winner for Nick Williams but Nicky Henderson and Martin Pipe lead the way for victories in terms of trainers, with the pair both saddling four winners of the race. Henderson won the race back to back with the same horse in 1985 and 1986 but hasn’t won the race since 2006. The pair had success with the horses below:

Nicky Henderson:

The Tsarevich (1985, 1986)

Liberthine (2005)

Non So (2006)

Martin Pipe:

Terao (1997)

Majadou (1999)

Dark Stranger (2000)

Blowing Wind (2002)

Despite going a while without winning it, Henderson should still be respected for anything he does run in 2020, such his is record, he will no doubt have horses ready for the race. Champion jockey Richard Johnson is going for three race wins and his mount should also be closely looked at.