The Festival Handicap Chase is a competitive betting heat on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival, and the market regularly changes throughout the season. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled on horseracing.net for expert views and analysis on the 2020 Ultima Handicap Chase as the picture becomes clearer.
The latest odds for the Festival Handicap Chase will be listed below just as soon as they become available.
Festival Handicap Chase Tips
You can find our tip for the Festival Handicap Chase a little closer to the time.
What is the Festival Trophy Handicap Chase?
The Ultima Handicap Chase (known traditionally as the Festival Trophy) is a handicap chase held on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival, Champion Day, which takes place on a Tuesday in March. Run over a distance of three miles and one furlong, the race has been backed by its current sponsors, Ultima Business Solutions, since 2015.
What happened in the 2019 Festival Trophy Handicap Chase?
There was a typically large field for the 2019 Ultima Handicap Chase, with 24 taking their chance, and the market was headed by three; the 2018 winner of the race, Coo Star Sivola for Nick Williams, the Mick Channon-trained Mister Whitaker and the Willie Mullins-trained Up For Review, who were 8/1 co-favourites. All three failed to land a meaningful blow, however, leaving the race to be fought out between the Nicky Henderson-trained Beware The Bear, and the Trevor Hemmings-owned pair of Vintage Clouds and Lake View Lad. Despite the best efforts of the latter two, Beware The Bear was driven out to hold off the challenge of the staying on Vintage Clouds, to win by one and a quarter lengths - with Lake View Lad in third.
The Ultima Handicap Chase began life as the National Hunt Handicap Chase, and was first run in 1946, when won by the Charles Rogers-trained Dunnshaughlin. The race, which has had several sponsors over the years, often serves as a warm up for the following month’s Grand National at Aintree, and a host of horses have appeared in both over the years, including in 2019 - when the second and third from the Ultima, Vintage Clouds and Lake View Lad, ran at Aintree the following month for their owner Trevor Hemmings. Three horses have won this race twice, with the most recent to do so being the David Pipe-trained Un Temps Pour Tout, who won the Ultima in 2016 and 2017.
Who is the most iconic winner of the Festival Trophy Handicap Chase?
The most memorable winner of the Ultima Handicap Chase is undoubtedly the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Wichita Lineman, though he is mainly remembered for his jockey more than anything else, receiving one of the great Cheltenham Festival rides from the legendary Tony McCoy when coming home in front in 2009 (when the race was known as the William Hill Trophy). Despite looking beaten with a circuit to go, McCoy wouldn’t give up the ghost on Wichita Lineman, who began to respond to his rider’s unrelenting urgings when still closer to last than first two fences out, before staying on with a remarkable burst to pick things up in the dying strides and bring the house down.
Are there any trials for the Festival Trophy Handicap Chase?
There are no specific trials as such for the Festival Trophy, though winners regularly make their mark in valuable staying chases throughout the season, such as the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby and the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow.
Who is the most successful jockey in the Festival Trophy Handicap Chase?
The joint-most successful jockeys in the history of the Ultima Handicap Chase are Robert Thornton and Tom Scudamore, with three wins each. Robert Thornton’s Ultima wins came courtesy of Fort Lightning (2004), Kelami (2005) and Bensalem (2011), while Tom Scudamore was successful on An Accordion (2008) and Un Temps Pour Tout (2016 & 2017).
Who is the most successful trainer in the Festival Trophy Handicap Chase?
The joint-most successful trainers in the history of the Ultima Handicap Chase are Fred Rimell and Fulke Walwyn, who have both won the race four times. Fred Rimell was successful with Cavaliero (1948), Frere Jacques II (1949), Land Fort (1951) and Holly Bank (1954), while Fulke Walwyn was successful with Ravencroft (1961), Team Spirit (1963), Lord Jim (1971) and Gay Vulgan (1977).