Festival Trophy Handicap Chase

Better known in recent years as the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase, the Festival Trophy Handicap Chase is a Grade 3 steeplechase, run over 3 miles and 110 yards on the Old Course at Cheltenham. The race is open to horses aged 5 years and upwards and is currently scheduled as the third race on the opening day of the four-day Cheltenham Festival held in March each year.It is, in fact, the first handicap of the week, immediately following the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Arkle Challenge Trophy, which are both Grade 1 contests.

Of the current crop of trainers, Alan King, David Pipe and Jonjo O’Neill have all won the Festival Handicap Chase twice since the turn of the century and the leading jockeys are Barry Geraghty and Tom Scudamore, also with two wins apiece. Scot Lane, trained by Martin Tate and ridden by Craig Smith, won the Festival Handicap Chase two years running in 1982 and 1983, but since then no horse has won the race more than once.

Other notable winners include Wichita Lineman, whose victory in 2009 earned Sir Anthony McCoy the ‘Jump Ride of the Year’. Apparently beaten heading out onto the second circuit, McCoy refused to give up on his mount, driving Wichita Lineman with increasing vigour, picking off rivals, one-by-one over the final two fences and forcing his head in front in the dying strides for the unlikeliest of wins.

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