All you need to know about the RSA Novices' Chase at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 13.
When and where can I watch it? 2.10pm, Wednesday March 13, live in stunning HD on Racing UK, Sky Channel 432.
What Grade? Grade One. What Course? Old Course. What Distance? 3m 1/2f (20 Fences)
What Prize Money? £175,000. Age restrictions: For 5yo+ which are allotted a BHA rating of 120 or more
Weights & Allowances: 5yo 11st 2lb; 6yo+ 11st 4lb. Allowances, mares 7lb
How good was the performance of Presenting Percy last year?
Key Statistics & Trends:
Of the past 13 renewals, ten seven-year-olds have been successful. Those that broke this trend were five-yar-old Star De Mohaison (2006), six-year-old Don Poli (2015) and eight-year-old Might Bite (2017).
There have been three winning favourites from the past ninerenewals; Presenting Percy (5-2 last year); Might Bite 7-2 (2017) and Don Poli 13-8 (2015)
In the last 12 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)
There is an even spread of winners in the last 11 years from both sides of the Irish Sea with Irish (six) and British (five) trained horses sharing the spoils.
The most runners has been 30, in 1986, while the smallest field was eight in 1993, 2015 & 2016. The current safety limit is 20.
Fulke Walwyn and Willie Mullins have been the most successful trainers in the history of the race with four wins each.
Walwyn sent out Mountain Prince (1948), On View (1951), Glenbeigh (1954) and Mandarin (1957), while current handler Mullins has scored with Florida Pearl (1998), Rule Supreme (2004), Cooldine (2009) and Don Poli (2015).
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 is the most successful current jockey with three victories – Star De Mohaison (2006), Bobs Worth (2012) and O’Faolains Boy (2014).
The RSA sponsored Novices' Chase is a Grade One run on the Wednesday of the Cheltenham Festival attracting the best staying novice chasers in training.
First run in 1946, Willie Mullins and Fulke Walwyn are the leading trainers with four victories apiece.
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.
RSA Chase walk down memory lane and replays:
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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