Ultima Handicap Chase Tips 2021 – Happygolucky to keep favourite backers happy

Nowadays, the Ultima Handicap Chase, run over 3 miles 1 furlong on the Old Course at Prestbury Park, has the distinction of being the first of nine handicaps staged at the Cheltenham Festival.

Just two favourites – namely Wichita Lineman in 2009 and Coo Star Sivola in 2018 – have won since the turn of the century, but 15 winners in that period featured in the first five in the betting. That statistic alone suggests that, even at this relatively early stage, the head of the market is where we should be looking for a likely winner.

 

Ultima Handicap Chase Preview

The first handicap of 2021 Cheltenham Festival week is the first real-time to have a strong each-way punt. The race is run on the old course and normally throws up some Grand National prospects. The 3-mile trip takes some getting and it is normally the strong stayers that come out on top.

It is usually a graveyard for favourites and a race that the bookies target, especially if the Supreme or Arkle favourites have already been beaten. The ante-post market is always wide open and at the time of writing you can get a best price of 14/1 for the favourite.

 

Ultima Handicap Tips

The first handicap of the week comes up next and it is a 3m Chase known as the Ultima Challenge Trophy. They’ll go fast again here front the offset and a horse with stamina assured is essential. Unexposed sorts have a decent record in the race so it’s always best to look for one that has scope to improve beyond their current handicap mark.

I do like HAPPYGOLUCKY NB (7/2 with bet365) here. He ticks a lot of boxes and he’s a horse on the upgrade. He ran in the Martin Pipe last year finishing a good fourth and that brings strong Cheltenham festival form to the table which is always key. He also proved that the big field shouldn’t be an issue. He is unexposed and his best performance to date came last time out when he powered up the same Cheltenham hill to win well. Trainer Kim Bailey has put him away since then and I presume he’s been waiting for this as he knew he has a big chance off his current mark.

Selection: HAPPYGOLUCKY (7/2 with bet365)

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Ultima Handicap Trends

  • Age – 10 of the last 12 winners were aged 7-9
  • Price – 2 of the last 12 favorites have won, 7/12 winners were in the top 3 in the betting
  • Weights – 9 of the last 12 winners weighed between 10st 6lbs & 11st 8lbs
  • Last Run – 7/12 winners at least placed on their last run before Cheltenham, 9/12 winners had their previous run within the last 45 days
  • Previous Course Form – 9/12 winners had at least 3 previous runs at Cheltenham, 7/12 winners had a previous win at Cheltenham
  • Previous Distance Form – 10/12 winners had at least 5 previous runs over at least 3 miles, 12/12 winners had at least 1 win in a race of 3 miles or more
  • Previous Hurdle Form – 12/12 winners had at least 5 runs over hurdles, 12/12 had at least 1 previous win over hurdles
  • Previous Chase Form – 10/12 winners had at least 5 previous chase runs, 11/12 winners had at least 1 previous chase win
  • Rating – 11/12 winners had a rating of 132 or higher
  • Season Form – 10/12 winners had at least 3 runs that season, 9/12 winners had at least 1 previous win that season

 

Ultima Handicap Last 10 Winners

Year Horse Jockey Trainer
2011 Bensalem Robert Thornton Alan King
2012 Alfie Sherrin Richie McLernon Jonjo O’Neill
2013 Golden Chieftain Brendan Powell Colin Tizzard
2014 Holywell Richie McLernon Jonjo O’Neill
2015 The Druids Nephew Barry Geraghty Neil Mulholland
2016 Un Temps Pour Tout Tom Scudamore David Pipe
2017 Un Temps Pour Tout Tom Scudamore David Pipe
2018 Coo Star Sivola Lizzie Kelly Nick Williams
2019 Beware The Bear Jeremiah McGrath Nicky Henderson
2020 The Conditional Brendan Powell David Bridgwater

 

2020 Ultima Handicap Chase Result

1st – The Conditional (15/2)

2nd – Kildisart (10/1)

3rd – Discorama (11/2)

4th – Vindication (11/2)