The Ultima Handicap Chase is the next race to feature in our ongoing series of ante-post previews for the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, with our top tipster Andrew Mount diving into the stats, trends and form book to offer his expert opinion on the race, the potential contenders and pick his ante-post tip for the race.
Ultima Handicap Chase – (Cheltenham, Tuesday, March 16)
The last ten winners were aged between six and nine. Those aged 10+ are 0-39.
DAYS SINCE LAST RUN
Those returning from a break of more than 90 days are 0-22 in the past ten years.
The last ten winners finished in the top six in their prep run.
Combining the above three stats wouldn’t have made a profit but if we had only considered those priced shorter than 12-1 the record for 6-9yos, in the top six last time, who had raced in the past three months, was eight winners from 33 runners (24.2% strike-rate) for a profit of £40.50 to a £1 level stake at SP. Last year the four qualifiers including the 1-2-3 (15-2, 10-1 and 11-2) and this system has hit the winner in each of the last seven years from between two and five qualifiers each year.
DICKIE DIVER did well to finish runner-up to Paint The Dream at Newbury last time as he was ridden patiently in a race that strongly favoured those who were on the front end. That was also his first run since finishing a best-of-British 14-1 fourth in the 2019 Albert Bartlett and he will surely improve for it.
ALNADAM won well at Sandown last time but that was over 2m4f.
ROYALE PAGAILLE looks more likely to run in the Gold Cup but would have to be respected if diverted to this contest.
VINNDICATION has a fantastic record right-handed, recording form figures of 11111131 (7-8), with the sole defeat over an inadequate trip in Grade 1 company behind Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation, yet Kim Bailey keeps running him left-handed. That didn’t stop him placing in this last year (fourth to the Conditional) but he tends to stutter approaching his fences and edge right when he races this way round and that saw him unseat in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury last time.
ONE FOR THE TEAM
ONE FOR THE TEAM was all the rage when the betting first opened as he’d chased home subsequent winner Next Destination in Grade 2 company at Newbury on his second chase outing before his eyecatching fifth when always wide in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase. He disappointed in the Sky Bet Chase last time but raced on the slowest part of the track and will appreciate better ground. He’s been nibbled back in from 25s to 20s with William Hill this week and good to soft or better going could see thereabouts.
THE CONDITIONAL won this last year by a neck off a mark of 139 and this consistent sort has to run off a 10lb higher mark after placed efforts in the Ladbrokes Trophy and a Listed handicap chase at Ascot. His record for David Bridgwater reads 3124132 (2-7) and I can see him being in the frame again despite the ratings hike. Un Temps Pour Tout won this off 148 in 2016 and repeated the dose a year later off 155.
LIEUTENANT ROCCO has been well supported in the last few days and is as short as 11-1 in a place. He won well from the front at Ffos Las on his latest outing and was thought good enough to run in last season’s Albert Bartlett, when pulled up at 33-1 for a different yard. His three wins (from just seven starts) have come in small fields on heavy ground and Cheltenham offers a different test entirely.
DISCORAMA appreciates a big field/strong pace scenario and his record at the Cheltenham festival reads 2nd of 3 (33-1), 2nd of 18 (9-2) and 3 of 23 (11-2 joint-favourite in this race last year). He hasn’t raced since November but goes well fresh and holds each-way claims.
COO STAR SIVOLA
COO STAR SIVOLA won this in 2018 but is 0-9 since and might struggle to get into the race despite returning to form with a runner-up effort at Sandown.
THE ULTIIMA - BIG RACE VERDICT
Its very hard to call at this early stage but DISCORAMA’s festival record makes him the each-way call, provided you can be on non-runner no bet. The Conditional, Dickie Diver and One For The Team are also considered.
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