National Hunt Chase Trends

James Mackie

National Hunt Chase

A pure attritional test of a horse, stamina and will are put under the microscope over a revised three miles and six furlongs.

Stamina is the name of the game, but over the years this race has now turned into a event that has thrown out some very smart horses, which might see a changing of the guard.

Horses now have to placed top four in a race over three miles to qualify, have a minimum rating of 120, they must have run in two chase contests prior and at least one of those must have been during the current season.

In terms of welfare it’s good to know the race is safer for those involved and with eight finishers from the 12 runners last term compared to only four finishers the year before.

Stat One

First off, 12 of the 14 previous winners were aged 6-8 years old.

It seems to be for those who are really unexposed over the marathon trip and still have youth on their side.

This is relatively straight forward as the race is for novices, but it might pay to be wary of those who are taking to chasing a little later in the career.

Rathvinden was the most recent winner out of the age bracket in 2018 but he was lightly raced for the age of 10 as he had only had 16 starts under rules before lining up in the National Hunt Chase.

Stat Two

As usual recent form is important and eight of the past 13 winners had placed in the first two on their prep run for the festival.

Now this had not held up in the three years prior to last year with Le Breuil, Rathvinden and Tiger Roll all not hitting the top 2 on their prep run, but Galvin was a winner on his.

Willie Mullins ante-post favourite for the race, Stattler, is unbeaten over fences this term and notched up his win over three miles recently to qualify for this encounter.

Be wary of Capodanno coming off the back of unseating his rider last time out if this does end up being his intended target.

Stat Three

Even though the race conditions have made the minimum rating for a runner 120, all of the last 10 winners were rated 139 or more. This would be the obvious class barrier going into the race.

The last three winners have been rated 145 or more, as the race is a Grade Two affair, class is clearly winning out.

Of the four top rated horses in the race last year, three of them filled the first three places. Keeping those at the top of the ratings in mind appears to pay dividends.

Stat Four

Further adding to the class angle, 12 of the last 14 winners had ran in a Graded or Listed chase.

11 of those 12 had contested a graded race.

There’s this clear picture of class telling in this race.

This helps the two market leaders Stattler and Run Wild Fred with them both contesting Grade Three and Grade One races respectably.

Start putting lines through those who come March haven’t contested a Graded or Listed race, they just simply might not have the class to be competitive here.

Stat Five

All 13 of the previous winners had at least three previous chase runs, so experience as a chaser is something you definitely want to latch onto and this will be against the favourite Stattler.

As always with Cheltenham festival races they do go hard, so jumping will be put under some real scrutiny.

With 23 fences to clear here, having more experience will obviously be a benefit, to add to this, 10 of those 13 had at least four runs over fences and 10 of 13 winners had at least one previous chase win.

Chasing form and experience is hugely important, the more experience the better, be very wary of those with fewer than three runs over fences.

Also be concerned about those who’ve yet to notch up a win over the larger obstacles.

Stat Six

All important course form makes an appearance here too with 11 of the 14 previous winners having previously run at Cheltenham.

It is a unique test, with it’s undulations and stiff fences, and it does catch some horses out.

Keep those onside who’ve run at the course before and showed themselves well.

7/1 shot Threeunderthru five is a winner over fences at the track over three miles this season and is worth keeping a close eye on.

Stat Seven

Finally, three of the last 13 winners were favourites/joint favourites.

The market can be a little misleading here, don’t get too caught up in a favourite.

Stattler is the clear favourite ante-post but 5/2 has very little juice in it for such an attritional test that yielded has been known to see a field spread out.

Plus, only six of the previous 13 winners had come out of the top three in the betting.

Less than 50% of the winners have been prominent in the market so going searching for some value deeper in the betting is the likely best plan of action.

Jockey Spotting

Note that in the last nine renewals (where amateurs were riding), Jamie Codd has won this race twice, Derek O’Connor has won this race twice and Patrick Mullins has won this race twice.

With this being for amateur jockeys, looks for those who stand out above the rest.

The mounts of those three jockeys could play a massively important role on the day.

Value Angle

The value selection in this race is the Gordon Elliott trained Run Wild Fred for Gigginstown House Stud with Jamie Codd likely to be riding and overall he hits many of the stats needed for this race.

The eight year old is technically still a novice over fences this season having not won last term in his first term over the bigger obstacles.

Although not winning he put up some superb efforts, including seconds in the Thyestes Handicap Chase and Irish Grand National.

This term he returned at Cork in a Grade Three Novice Chase over 2m4f and he finished a fair second behind Cape Gentleman with trip far too short, overall it being a prep race.

It worked perfectly setting him up for the Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan as he went on to win eased down by close to eight lengths.

Looking to truly see how good he was last time out at Leopardstown over Christmas he finished a good second behind stablemate Fury Road in the Grade One Neville Hotels Novice Chase.

This confirmed that the National Hunt Chase would be his point of call at the festival, staying the trip well and also being able to mix it with the best in Ireland at three miles.

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