Champion Chase Trends – Cheltenham 2015
Queen Mother Champion Chase
Quite simply the race that crowns the best two-mile chaser on the planet, and one that proved kind to runners in the top half of the market down the years; the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
There is no escaping the fact each of the last 10 Champion Chase winners bar Newmill (16/1) in 2006 returned 12/1 or shorter – a pattern that stretches even further back with winners at 15/8, 7/4, 7/4 and 7/2 during the period from 2000-2004.
Age & Experience
While Moscow Flyer won the title for the second occasion as an 11yo in 2005, the majority of winners came from the 5-9yo bracket (12%), comparing well to the remainder outside that age group at 1-24 (4%). Moscow Flyer, however, did have a maximum of three career runs at Cheltenham, unlike those who had already appeared here on more occasions at 0-29.
As to be expected in such a championship event, the classier runners came to the fore, with those officially rated 160 or higher or without a rating (Irish-trained), responsible for each of the last 10 winners – a fact that counted against 39 runners rated 159 or less, who all met with defeat.
The classy runners with a solid strike-rates over fences also performed best, with those to have won 51% or more of their career chase runs scoring on eight occasions (28%) – those with lower strike-rates were only 2-67 (3%).
It’s also worth noting that each Champion Chase winner since 2005 was Irish or French-bred, leaving the remainder winless at 0-20.
It could prove worthwhile ignoring any runner that failed to win during their last three runs, as they struck just once at 1-32. But, don’t write off anything that fell or unseated last time, though, as two managed to bounce back to win here since 1997, including Voy Por Ustedes in 2007. Instead, be more wary of those that finished fourth to tenth place last time, as they were 0-42.
A bigger negative surrounded those that last ran either side of a 31-60-day break, as they failed to win in 36 attempts.
Trainers & Jockeys
Both Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson won twice each during the last 10 years, with the former supplying Barry Geraghty with two of his five winners since 2003. Ruby Walsh was aboard both Nicholls’ winners, with the duo also striking in 2004.
Trends Summary (British & Irish form only)
Of the last 10 Champion Chase winners…
10 were officially rated 160+ or were not rated (Irish) – others were 0-39
10 were Irish or French-bred – others were 0-20
10 had 3 runs or fewer at Cheltenham – others were 0-29
10 raced during the last 31-60 days (17%) – others were 0-36
9 returned 12/1 or shorter (21%) – others were 1-54 (2%)
9 were 5-9yo’s (12%) – others were 1-24 (4%)
9 won during their last three runs (15%) – others were 1-32 (3%)
8 won 51% or more of their chase runs (28%) – others were 2-67 (3%)
N Henderson and P Nicholls won two apiece