Cheltenham Festival News

The 2023 Plate Handicap Chase: statistics, trends and replays

Sun 1 Jan 2023

We share the facts and stats you need to know for the Craft Irish Whiskey Co. Festival Plate for the staying handicap chasers on day three of the Cheltenham Festival. Watch live on Racing TV!

 Coole Cody wins won the latest running of the Festival Plate (Photo: Focusonracing)
Coole Cody wins won the latest running of the Festival Plate (Photo: Focusonracing)

What Grade? Grade Three. What course? New course. What distance? 2m 5f (17 fences).

Prize-money: £80,000 Ages: 5yo+ Weights & Allowances: Handicap

Sponsor: --.

Key statistics and trends:

· Coole Cody (rated 145) became the ninth winner in succession to be rated in the 140s. He was also the seventh successive novice or second-season chaser to win, even if he his unorthodox profile meant he had acquired an abundance of experience over hurdles and then fences first. He finished fourth in the race the previous year behind The Shunter.

· Five favourites have won since 1999 - but three have triumphed in the last five years. Imperial Alcazar (7-2F) was a well-beaten second in last year's race.

· The Pipe family have a tremendous record in the race; Martin won it four times between 1997 and 2002 and his son David has landed the prize three times since 2010.

· Only five horses have carried more than 11st to victory since the turn of the century. Coole Cody (11st 2lb) was the latest and three of the first four home last year carried over 11st.

· Coole Cody (2021), Siruh Du Lac (2019) and Empire Of Dirt (2016) are the only winners in the last decade to have previously won a Graded race over fences. The Shunter enjoyed a remarkably versatile campaign in 2020/2021 and landed the Grade 3 Greatwood Hurdle earlier in the season.

· Only one five-year-old has won this race - Majadou (1999) for Martin Pipe and AP McCoy.

· 23 of the last 25 winners had previously won a race between 2m3f and 2m5f.

· Novices have won this race for four of the past six years – Road To Respect (2017), The Storyteller (2018), Simply the Betts (2020) and The Shunter (2021). Beforehand, novices were unsuccessful in this contest since 2005.

· Horses returning to this contest have often done well (like Coole Cody last season) and there have been two dual winners in Elfast and The Tsarevich. Mr McGoldrick, Dublin Flyer, Smartie Express, King of the Lot and Fondmort were placed on more than one occasion. Palarshan, second in 2007, returned the following season to finish fifth.

Race History:

The Craft Irish Whiskey Co., the most awarded new whiskey brand of 2021 and creator of the most expensive whiskey in the world, was announced as the new sponsor of the Festival Plate Handicap Chase on Day Three of The Festival in 2022.

The contest was once known as the Mildmay Of Flete Handicap Chase, in memory of the second Baron Mildmay of Flete, an amateur National Hunt jockey who rode three winners at the Cheltenham Festival.

The 2009 renewal was run as the Freddie Williams Festival Plate in remembrance of legendary bookmaker Freddie Williams, who passed away in 2008.

The first running, which resulted in a dead-heat between Slender and Canford, took place at Cheltenham in April, because the last two days of the 1951 Festival were abandoned due to a waterlogged course.

Red Rum, the only triple winner of the Grand National (1973, 1974 and 1977), finished fourth in the 1971 renewal.

Recent renewals:

2022 - Coole Cody

Coole Cody continued his love affair with Cheltenham by storming home to land the Festival Plate at 22-1 in a feelgood success for trainer Evan Williams and jockey Adam Wedge.

The admirable 11-year-old migbt have made it successive Paddy Power Gold Cup wins at this course earlier in the season but for a fall at the second-last and gained compensation in the December Gold Cup the followig month before this special triumph.

Wedge said: "He's an absolute warrior. He got cut up on the bend and that just put more fire in his belly. Once I pulled him out, he wasn't letting them past again.

"For a horse that jumps right you wouldn't think a left-handed track would suit him but all credit to Evan for getting him to win three big handicaps round Cheltenham. It's a fantastic effort."

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