First staged in 1995, the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase is now firmly established as one of the premier middle-distance chases of the Jumps season. Some great horses have lifted the prestigious prize since its inception, often on the back of Boxing Day glory at Kempton or en route to stardom the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals later in the season.
Its distance, over an extended 2m 5f, enables the contest to attract horses who are targeting races between 2m and 3m plus at both Cheltenham and Aintree. As a result, mouth-watering clashes between specialists at different distances have become a regular feature of the race.
Proof of this is found in the Betfair Ascot Chase’s remarkable roll of honour. Previous winners have also found regular Grade 1 success at Cheltenham in, amongst others, the Arkle Trophy, Gold Cup, Ryanair Chase and Champion Chase.
Many have also tasted glory at Aintree in the Grade 1 Aintree Bowl, Melling Chase and Maghull Chase, while the King George VI Chase at Kempton has been lifted an amazing 11 times by former winners of our February showpiece.
So what of some of the names that grace that illustrious honours board? The incomparable Kauto Star (2008), a household name, is ranked as one of the greatest and most popular chasers of modern times; Cue Card (2013) is a King George, Ryanair, Aintree Bowl and Champion Bumper winner; his old rival Silviniaco Conti (2016) has won two King Georges and two Aintree Bowls; and one of the race’s great early winners, One Man (1998), has a pair of King Georges, a Hennessy Gold Cup and a Queen Mother Champion Chase on his own glittering CV.
There’s every chance that this year’s winner could also eventually write themselves into jumps racing folklore. Don’t miss the chance to say “I was there…”
MOST WINS (HORSES): Tuitchev (2), Monet’s Garden (2), Riverside Theatre (2)
MOST WINS (JOCKEYS): Barry Geraghty (3), AP McCoy (2), Joe Tizzard (2), Norman Williamson (2)
MOST WINS (TRAINERS): Martin Pipe (4), Nicky Henderson (3), Paul Nicholls (3)