All you need to know about the The Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase, for amateur riders, at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 14.
Our experts look back at last year's renewal.
When and where can I watch th Kim Muir? 5.30pm, Thursday, March 14, Cheltenham Racecourse. Live in stunning HD on Racing UK, Sky Channel 426.
Which Grade? Class 2. Which course is the Kim Muir run on? New Course
What Distance? 3m 2f (21 fences). How much prize-money? £70,000
Ages: For 5yo+. Weights & Allowances: 0-145 Handicap
Key Statistics and Trends:
Class tends to come to the fore:
Since 2009, every winner has carried more than 11st; four of those carried at least 11st 9lb.
Seventeen of the past 19 winners ran over at least three miles in their last race.
Seven of the last eight winners wore headgear. The first two home last year both wore blinkers.
Eight of the last ten winners came from the top six in the market.
The Codd father:
Jamie Codd has ridden the winner four times since 2009.
Only one of the last 15 winners won on their previous run before Cheltenham.
The Elliott factor:
Keep an eye out for Gordon Elliott’s runners. His seven runners in the last 11 years have yielded a win and four places, while Squouateur was still travelling well when he unseated his rider three out in 2017.
Older brigades tend to struggle:
Since 1992, only three horses older than nine have won the race - In Truth (1998), Maximise (2004) and The Package (2015).
The Kim Muir Amateur Riders’ Chase was introduced to the National Hunt Meeting in 1946 by Mrs Evan Williams, sister of Kim Muir, a young cavalry officer who lost his life in the early years of the Second World War.
The addition of Fulke Walwyn to the title of the race occurred in 1991, reflecting the career of Cheltenham’s then most successful trainer.
Walwyn trained 211 winners at Cheltenham and 40 at The Festival - his haul included four Gold Cups, two Champion Hurdles and seven Cathcart Challenge Cups. His total was a record until Nicky Henderson surpassed the mark in 2012.
Cool Ground (1989) is the only horse to have progressed from winning this three and a quarter mile handicap to a Cheltenham Gold Cup victory.
Nicolaus Silver (1961) and Ballabriggs (2010) both subsequently won the Grand National after success in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase.
Last six winners and closing stages:
2018 - Missed Approach
The 8-1 chance showed class and no little guts in victory as jockey Noel McParlan celebrated a first Festival winner after a brave front-running ride aboard a willing partner for trainer Warren Greatrex.
The eight-year-old didn’t put in a flawless round by any means but got into a lovely rhythm on the second circuit and the rider slowed the pace out in front for a tactical advantage on the run for home.
The looming Mall Dini looked to be travelling all over the winner turning in, but the gallant Missed Approach was not to be denied.
“He stays, he jumps and is brave,” said Greatrex, who had earned his training fee in the run-up to the Festival. “The owner wanted to go to Uttoxeter on Saturday for the Midlands National, but I persuaded him to come here.”
2017 – Domesday Book:
It wouldn’t be unkind to say that Domesday Book was a surpirse winner of the 2017 Kim Muir, even his trainer Stuart Edmunds could not believe that his 40-1 chance, ridden superbly by Gina Andrews, stayed on to head Pendra in the closing stages.
“It’s unbelievable, it hasn’t sunk in. I think it’s as big a surprise to me as everyone else. I came here thinking if he finished mid-div we’d do OK!,” said the trainer, celebrating his first Cheltenham Festival winner.
It was a strongly-run event, but the pace held up, with the first two home on the sharp end throughout and Domesday Book, who was having just his second start for Edmunds, showed guts and tenacity by the bucket load to rally up the hill.
2016 – Cause Of Causes:
Cause Of Causes, the archetypal ‘Spring horse’, had not won a race since the previous Cheltenham Festival, but he was produced to perfection by Gordon Elliott and although he still had 17 rivals in front of him at the top of the hill, he took off under Jamie Codd and shot clear to win by a remarkable 12 lengths.
The eight-year-old relished the return to better ground and this victory more than made amends for his unlucky defeat in the race two years earlier. However, it was not all plain sailing for Codd.
The winning rider explained:
“It was not a straightforward race, I wanted to get him into a rhythm, but I was never happy the whole way.
“I was hoping they had gone too quick as he is not the sort of horse you can ask to make big jumps, so I was trying to get him to the top of the hill on the bridle.
“Coming down the hill, he then came alive and started to pass horses. Once I passed one, I passed another six or seven in 10 or 15 strides. I was probably there too soon but there was no looking back once I had got to the front.”
2015 – The Package:
The Package became the first twelve-year-old to win the Kim Muir since Waggoners Walk in 1981 when a set of first-time blinkers proved the catalyst to a remarkable return to form from the David Pipe-trained veteran.
The Package had been out of sorts in three runs since an honourable third at the previous year’s Festival but had reportedly worked superbly in the blinkers in the build-up to this race and he never gave jockey Jamie Codd a moment’s worry as he sauntered round before cruising clear after the second last.
It was a sensational performance from a revitalised horse, but one that he could not replicate in two subsequent starts before he was retired.
2014 – Spring Heeled:
Spring Heeled, partnered by Robbie McNamara, proved a poignant winner in 2014 after McNamara’s cousin, JT McNamara, was left paralysed from a fall in the same race 12 months earlier.
Riding for Jim Culloty, famous for the three Gold Cup wins of Best Mate, McNamara had won the closing bumper on Wednesday in the same Dr Ronan Lambe colours on Silver Concorde.
It was Culloty's first winner in seven months and the trainer could not hide his relief afterwards.
He said: "That was unbelievable. He was a bit fractious as a young horse, a bit of a worrier and as a result of giving him time he ended up well handicapped.
“I thought if things went his way he had a right chance but there were 24 runners, so he needed luck."
2013 – Same Difference:
March 14, 2013 turned out to be a very special day for Nigel Twiston-Davies’ stable amateur Ryan Hatch, whose 7lb claim, along with the first-time visor, turned out to be crucial in the narrow victory of Same Difference.
It turned into a protracted duel between Same Difference and the Derek O’Connor-ridden Super Duty from the bypassed final fence (the last of four fences bypassed in total) as the pair drifted towards the inside rail.
However, Hatch urged his mount into a slender lead and the pair denied favourite backers by a head at the line, providing Hatch with his first Festival success.
“I didn’t dare believe I had won," the winning jockey said.
I knew I was up against Derek O’Connor, the top boy in Ireland, and when the result was called it was a fair relief.
“Nigel has been really good to me, giving me rides throughout the season. I’m very grateful to him.”
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