Everything you need to know about the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase at Cheltenham Racecourse on Wednesday 16 March.
When and where can I watch the race? 1.55pm on Wednesday 16 March, live in stunning HD on Racing TV.
What Grade? Grade One. What Course? Old Course. What Distance? 3m 1/2f (20 Fences)
Prize money? £130,000.
Ages and restrictions: For 5yo+ which are allotted a BHA rating of 120 or more. Weights & Allowances: 5yo 11st 2lb; 6yo+ 11st 4lb. Allowances, mares 7lb
Sponsor: Brown Advisory
Watch what Paul Nicholls said to Racing TV after Topofthegame's victory last year
Key statistics and trends:
In the past 16 renewals, 12 seven-year-olds have been successful. Winners that broke the trend were five-year-old Star De Mohaison (2006), six-year-old Don Poli (2015) and eight-year-olds Might Bite (2017) and Champ (2020).
There have been four winning favourites from the past 11 renewals - Monkfish at 1-4 (2021), Presenting Percy at 5-2 (2018), Might Bite at 7-2 (2017) and Don Poli at 13-8 (2015).
In the past 13 years, three horses have won the RSA and gone on to win the following year's Gold Cup - Denman (2007), Bobs Worth (2012) and Lord Windermere (2013).
Both Britain and Ireland fare well in this race, with seven winners for each in the last 14 renewals.
The most runners was 30 back in 1986, while the smallest field was just six last year in the race won by hot favourite Monkfish. Eight was the previous smallest field, that number figuring in the 1993, 2015 and 2016 renewals. The current safety limit is 20.
Willie Mullins is now the most succesful trainer in the history of the race with five victories. Mullins has scored with Florida Pearl (1998), Rule Supreme (2004), Cooldine (2009), Don Poli (2015) and Monkfish (2021).
Fulke Walwyn has four wins - Mountain Prince (1948), On View (1951), Glenbeigh (1954) and Mandarin (1957) - as does Nicky Henderson with Trabolgan (2005), Bobs Worth (2012), Might Bite (2017) and Champ (2020).
Pat Taaffe was the most successful jockey with five wins - Coneyburrow (1953), Solfen (1960), Grallagh Cnoc (1961), Arkle (1963) and Proud Tarquin (1970).
Barry Geraghty was the most successful current jockey with three victories before his retirement last summer thanks to Star De Mohaison (2006), Bobs Worth (2012) and O’Faolains Boy (2014).
This staying novices' chase had enjoyed a long association with RSA, the insurance group having sponsored the race since 1974. The company was Cheltenham's longest-running sponsor before the announcement of a parting of ways back in the autumn amid a challenging climate because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable were announced as the new sponsor last month. Brown Advisory, an independent investment firm, and Merriebelle Stable, the breeding and racing operation of Brown Advisory Director Charles Noell and his longstanding business partner John Moores are no stranger to sponsorship at The Festival, having backed the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase since 2015.
The three-year deal sees Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable switch its support to the Grade One contest. It's rew title is The Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.
First run as the Broadway Novices’ Chase, the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase boasts an outstanding roll of honour featuring the likes of Mandarin, Arkle, Ten Up, Master Smudge, Garrison Savannah, Looks Like Trouble, Denman and Lord Windermere – all subsequent winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
This race is a Grade One contest run on the Wednesday of the Cheltenham Festival and attracts the best staying novice chasers in training. First run in 1946, Willie Mullins is the leading trainer wirh five victories ahead of Fulke Walwyn and Nicky Henderson, who both have four each.
Pat Taaffe is the leading rider in the race having registered five victories - Coneyburrow (1953), Solfen (1960), Grallagh Cnoc (1961), Arkle (1963) & Proud Tarquin (1970).
There have been nine winners of the RSA chase who have gone on to Gold Cup glory - (1959) Mandarin (1962 Gold Cup), (1963) Arkle (1964, 1965 & 1966 Gold Cup), (1974) Ten Up (1975 Gold Cup), (1979) Master Smudge (1980 Gold Cup), (1990) Garrison Savannah (1991 Gold Cup), (1999) Looks Like Trouble (2000 Gold Cup), (2007) Denman (2008 Gold Cup), (2012) Bobs Worth (2013 Gold Cup) & (2013) Lord Windermere (2014 Gold Cup).
Tied Cottage won the RSA Chase in 1976 and went on to win the Gold Cup in 1980, however he was subsequently disqualified.
Recent renewals of the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase:
2021 - Monkfish:
"One of the most nerve-wracking races I've ever watched."
That was the verdict of trainer Willie Mullins, who watched his 1/4F Monkfish justify his 'banker' billing but with a few scares on the way round under jockey Paul Townend and owners Susannah and Rich Ricci.
Despite the imperfect round of jumping after a flawless success at the Dublin Racing Festival last time, Monkfish was still ultimately a cosy winner and by six and a half length from Fiddlerontheroof (40/1) on second with stablemate The Big Breakaway (12/1) 11 lengths further back in third.
"That was heart-stopping," added Mullins. "I’ll have to thank James McCarthy, the heart surgeon in the Blackrock Clinic for the good job he did on this (my heart)! When he made a mistake at the last, or whatever he did I don’t know, it was even harder to watch on the replay.
“He put a quick one in early at the fence going up the hill and it just seemed to unsettle him. Paul asked him for one or two, got him back in his rhythm and he seemed to miss another one.
“He’s such a good horse, it’s great he’s come Cheltenham twice and won twice and he looks a smart one for the future.”
2020 - Champ:
One of the most remarkable finishes in Cheltenham Festival history.
The horse named after 20-times champion AP McCoy, Champ delivered on the big stage and in remarkable style under jockey Barry Geraghty for trainer Nicky Henderson and owner JP McManus.
While his ability has never been doubted, Champ has his quirks and his Festival preparation included a fall at this track on his previous start on New Year's Day.
Rivals Minella Indo and Allaho assumed the front two positions throughout, but both horses looked to tire quickly after the final fence. Yet Champ was still fully 10 lengths behid with the hill to tackle but genuinely motored home, amazingly getting up to win fairly cosily by a length from his two Irish-trained rivals.
It didn't look very likely to happen, did it?" said Henderson.
"It looked like he was going to be an honourable third - I was watching the front two and all of a sudden he appeared in the picture. I was thinking, 'How has he got here?'
"He was 100-1 at the second-last and what price was he at the last? We had the Might Bite thing in this race a few years ago, so you'd have to say it's been a strange race for me."
2019 - Topofthegame:
Topofthegame (4-1) lived up to his name under Harry Cobden to give Paul Nicholls a third victory in the RSA, repelling fellow market protagonists Santini (3-1) and Delta Work (15-8F) in a thrilling duel as the three pulled 16 lengths clear in a quality renewal.
A huge horse and a real chaser on looks, the flashy chestnut was second in Grade One company previously but opened his account over fences in some style here, again showing his liking for the Festival after a fine second in the Coral Cup under a big weight the previous year.
“He has not been the easiest to train, but we’ve always believed he is a serious horse,” said Nicholls.
“It was shades of Denman really. He has got everything and he might well be my new Denman.
“Today was the only day we have trained him for. God willing he will stay sound and he will be in the Gold Cup next year.”
Unfortunately, Topofthegame missed tthe 2019/20 campaign with a setback.
2018 - Presenting Percy
A 1-2 for Ireland with Presenting Percy, the 5-2 favourite, obliging in slick style from Monalee.
It would almost certainly have been a 1-2-3, too, had Al Boum Photo not fallen two out - a tumble that ruled Ruby Walsh out for many more weeks. walsh had only just returned from a broken leg after spending much of the the season on the sidelines.
As Walsh received more medical treatment, racegoers were swooning over Davy Russell, who had smuggled Presenting Percy to the front from well off the pace.
The impressive winner had won the Pertemps Hurdle at the Festival 12 months earlier but, typically, his trainer Pat Kelly kept a low profile afterwards.
It was an emotional success for Russell, whose mother had died in the weeks building up to the Festival. "Mum was the most outstanding mum," he said. "She reared six kids and a business along with my dad. They will be in floods of tears at home. She was a great woman."
Of the winner, he added: "I have underestimated this horse all along. I felt he had to prove it. He has now and he's the Grade One winner we hoped he would be."
2017 - Might Bite:
A thrilling renewal that looked all over at the second last with Might Bite 12 lengths clear. After a mistake at the final fence, however, he veered violently right opening the door to his main market rival and stablemate Whisper.
He rallied on the run-in and got back up to lead on the line, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat - a nose was the official winning margin.
It provided Nicky Henderson with a 1-2 in the race with the pair pulling 10 lengths clear of Bellshill in third.
Might Bite is now ante-post favourite for this year’s Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup bidding to become the tenth horse to complete the double.
2016 - Blaklion:
He came into the race with plenty of chasing experience, having already raced six times over fences and was sent off a solid 8-1 chance with 2015 World Hurdle winner More Of That the well backed 6-4 favourite.
Producing an excellent round of jumping and improving on better ground, Blaklion put up a career-best performance and provided his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies with a first win in the race. It was a first Grade One victory for jockey Ryan Hatch.
2015 - Don Poli:
Coneygree swerved this renewal to run in the Gold Cup (which he won) and it was left to the Irish banker of the meeting, Don Poli, to take the honours by a comfortable six lengths.
His tendency to race lazily and his abundance of stamina saw him niggled along at halfway but once he drew upsides the leaders at the fourth last there was, barring accident, only going to be one winner.
This was Don Poli's only third start over fences and he subsequently went on to win the Grade One Lexus Chase (2015) before finishing third behind Don Cossack in the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
He was last seen on a racecourse in February 2017 finishing third as the favourite to subsequent 2017 Gold Cup winner Sizing John at Leopardstown in the Stan James Irish Gold Cup.
2014 - O'Faolains Boy:
A remarkably wide-open renewal with the betting having 13-2 joint favourites, but it was 12-1 chance O'Faolains Boy who showed a tremendous attitude to defeat the loveable grey Smad Place by a neck.
He was victorious despite losing a shoe and twisting another during the race.
O'Faolains Boy has struggled to hit the same sort of heights since, having won only one more race in his career since. He was pulled up on his latest start in the 2017 Welsh Grand National.
2013 - Lord Windermere:
A dramatic renewal with Boston Bob falling at the last when a length clear. Lord Windermere came into the race having won only once in his five chasing starts but put in a game display, despite stumbling shortly after the third last to stay on well and beat Lyreen Legend by one and three-quarter lengths.
Twelve months later Lord Windermere became one of only nine horses to complete the RSA Chase and Gold Cup double when springing a 25-1 surprise in the Blue Riband.
That provided his trainer Jim Culloty with the rare accolade of having ridden and trained the winner of the Cheltenham Festival showpiece.
2012 - Bobs Worth:
Only nine runners turned up but it was a competitive renewal with the 2011 World Hurdle runner-up Grands Crus, the Neptune Novices' Hurdle winner First Lieutenant and the Albert Bartlett winner Bobs Worth lining up. It was won with an excellent staying performance from Bobs Worth, who maintained his 100% record at the track.
The following year Bobs Worth returned to become one of only nine horses to complete the RSA Chase and Gold Cup double, winning the Blue Riband by seven lengths. He ended his career as a four-time Grade One winner and a dual Grade Two winner.
2011 - Bostons Angel
There were emotional scenes in the winner's enclosure with Elder Scouller, owner of Bostons Angel, paying tribute to his late father Philip, the breeder of the RSA Chase winner and a former amateur rider.
“My father passed away two years ago but he bred the horse and I’m sure he would have been kicking him on up the run-in," he said. “He’s the toughest racehorse I’ve ever known."
Trainer Jessica Harrington had suffered the agony of seeing the much-fancied Oscars Well blunder at the last in the previous race to lose all chance of winning, but her luck changed emphatically here.
She said: “He’s not a very good-looking horse but he’s great.”
Robbie Power, who was gaining his first Festival victory, said: “It’s a relief more than anything. I thought that Oscars Well was my best chance of the week and we were terribly unlucky. I was gutted after that but I went and had a coke and a fag and Jessie told me to get over it.
“I thought we were going nowhere at the top of the hill but he galloped all the way to the line.”
2010 - Weapon's Amnesty
A one-sided renewal with 10-1 chance Weapons Amnesty thumping his rivals for owner Michael O’Leary, trainer Charles Byrnes and jockey Davy Russell.
Weapons Amnesty had won the previous year’s Albert Bartlett Hurdle and Byrnes said: “I believe in horses for courses and this horse likes Cheltenham. It was an unbelievable round of jumping."
Nicky Henderson saddled three live contenders with 9-1 chance Burton Port, the outsider of his trio, faring best of them. He pipped stablemate Long Run (11-4), who finished third, while the 2-1 favourite Punchestowns could finish only fifth.
“It almost looked with Long Run that he didn’t stay," Henderson said. "He jumped OK but just nudged a couple and we’ll have to iron those kinks out. He’s only five so we’re in no rush with him."
Weapon's Amnesty was subsequently beset by injury problems and raced only once more, when pulled up. By contrast, Long Run lined up as favourite for the Gold Cup 12 months later and beat Denman and Kauto Star in an epic renewal.
2009 - Cooldine:
A select but classy field and Cooldine ran out an impressive 16-length winner as the well backed 9-4 favourite.
The race was run at a furious pace set by future Hennessy Gold Cup winner Carruthers, but Cooldine, bar a mistake at the fifth last, put in a flawless display of jumping to run out a ready winner.
This was Willie Mullins’ third win in the race following Florida Pearl (1998) and Rule Supreme (2004).
This excellent performance left a mark on Cooldine, as he never won another race again in his 14 subsequent starts, though he did finish a neck second to Joncol in the 2010 Irish Hennessy Gold Cup.
2008 - Albertas Run
This renewal was delayed by 24 hours after strong winds led to the second day of the Festival being abandoned without a race being run.
The RSA became the second race on the Thursday and was notable for Tony McCoy notching his first winner since coming back from a serious back injury via Albertas Run, trained by Jonjo O’Neill and owned by Trevor Hemmings.
McCoy was typically self-critical at having led two fences out, saying: “I should have been a bit cooler. He idled when I won on him here in December, and I should have waited a bit longer today, but when a horse is going so well you don’t want to keep disappointing them."
Albertas Run, the 4-1 favourite, won by four and a half lengths from Roll Along. He subsequenly woin the Ryanair Chase in 2010 and 2011.
2007 - Denman:
A superb performance from a superb racehorse as Denman came clear from his rivals at the third last and strode up the hill for an excellent 10-length win.
He had suffered only one previous career defeat in the 2006 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle and never put a foot wrong, jumping his rivals into submission.
One of the best staying chasers of the modern era, Denman become one of only nine horses to complete the RSA Chase and Gold Cup double, winning the Blue Riband the following year by seven lengths from the great Kauto Star.
He was to finish second in the next three renewals of the Gold Cup and also took two Hennessy Gold Cups, defying top-weight of 11st 12lb in one of them.
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