This is where the big hitters in the betting ring come out to play on the Tuesday. Three mile handicaps are competitive at the best of times, but the first handicap of the Cheltenham is perhaps the toughest of the lot. It’s not impossible to find the winner though…
Who won in 2016?
Traditionally an ultra-competitive handicap and that again looked the case, but despite them going a really good gallop up front, very little got into the race. Un Temps Pour Tout, who had some classy hurdle form from the previous seasons Festival, relished stepping back up in trip to beat a well-handicapped former winner of the race in Holywell.
How to find the winner of the Ultima Handicap Chase?
This is a race that regularly delivers for trend followers. One of the strongest patterns is automatically eliminating any horse rated over 143 from your shortlist, although the winner last year defied that last season. Top weights have a stinking record in this gruelling handicap where it pays significantly to carry as little weight as possible in the saddle.
The same trainers come back year-after-year to send out well prepared horses for this lucrative handicap. Jonjo O’Neill is perhaps king of the JLT Handicap Chase, winning three of the last eight renewals. Strangely, Paul Nicholls has a shocking record in this race, which is strange considering he usually thrives with three-mile chasers.
He’s racked up a poor record of 0-19 in this race, with hardly any of them placing too.
Ante-post tip for the Ultima Handicap Chase?
Although very early days for a handicap of this nature, a horse to perhaps keep a look out over the season is the JP McManus-owned MORE OF THAT, who has been touted as Gold Cup horse but has yet to fire this season over fences. If O’Neill can freshen him up over the winter, he could be a well-handicapped horse come the spring.
This would be his ideal race.