To celebrate the best stayers over jumps, the Stayers Chase Triple crown is widely regarded as one of the most iconic bonus funds in the sport. It’s been running since 2005 and there has only ever been one winner, which highlights how difficult the feat is.
The winner of the title will be awarded a payout of £1 million. This prize money comes on top of any prize money that the horse will win from winning each event. In total, the winning horse will take home over £1.6 million, which is made up of around £600,000 in prize money from the three races and then the £1 million bonus on top.
What’s iconic about this bonus is that all three of the races are of the highest order and come as Group 1 races. The prize money has to be split between the owners and those involved with the horse in the following breakdown:
- Owner – 65%
- Trainer – 15%
- Staff at Training Yard – 10%
- Jockey – 10%
Who Puts up the Money?
The bonus was first run in 2005 and at the time is was known as the Betfair Million. As a result, it was betting exchange Betfair that initially put up the £1 million prize money. But they withdrew from the bonus in 2010 and initially that was going to be the end of it.
But the Jockey Club Racecourses saw how important it had become for each of the races and the buzz that it could achieve each season. So, it is they who now include the £1 million bonus which is insured each season should it be won.
The bonus is as a tribute to the great Kauto Star, who is the only winner of the Stayers Chase Triple Crown (previously Betfair Million when Kauto Star won). But there have been plenty of superstars that have come close since, which we talk about more later in this article.
What’s the Format and the Races That Are Involved?
Unlike other bonuses and prize funds, there are no qualifying races that need to win in order to win the overall bonus. Instead, there is 3 of the best Group 1 jump races in the UK that need to win within each season. They are:
- Betfair Chase – Haydock Park (November)
- King George VI Chase – Kempton Park (December)
- Cheltenham Gold Cup – Cheltenham Racecourse (March)
There have been one of two differing variations of this, including the Lexus Chase as an alternative to the King George VI Chase and also winning the Grand National, plus being placed at Cheltenham. The latest format is much more simplified and as a result, is widely targeted by the elite.
What the three races do bring is a relatively short period of time between each race, especially that of the Betfair Chase and the King George IV Chase, leaving just 30 days or so for the horse to rest. The run up to Cheltenham is one that is often hectic as well, with many big races that are run between the races.
Here’s a look at each of the races:
The Betfair Chase has been running since 2005 and was launched to run as part of the then Betfair Millions alongside two of the most iconic races in UK jump racing. It’s now a Group 1 race and whilst it’s commonly known as the Betfair Chase, its registered title is that of the Lancashire Chase.
The race takes place at Haydock Park and with it the horses navigate through a gruelling 3m 1f track. It’s open to horse aged 5 and up and includes a purse of £200,000 with the winner getting £112,540.
The most successful horse in the race is that Kauto Star, winning 4 times between 2006 and 2011. Leading jockey is Ruby Walsh with 4 wins and leading trainer is Paul Nicholls with 6 wins.
King George VI Chase
The King George is famous for being the highlight of the racing over the festive period and is synonymous with the Boxing Day meeting at Kempton Park. It’s been running since 1937 and is regarded as one of the highest-profile steeplechases in the world.
It’s first running 1937 was in honour of the new British monarch, King George VI. It only ran twice before a break for World War II but has been consistent from 1947 onwards. It’s another 3 mile war of attrition for the horses and comes with a £250,000 purse and £142,375 for the winner.
Kauto Star is the most dominant horse in this race as well, winning a staggering 5 times from 2006 to 2011. Top trainer and leading jockey are the same combination as the Betfair Chase, with Paul Nichols amazing 10 wins and jockey Ruby Walsh with 5 wins (all on Kauto Star).
Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is one of the highest profile steeplechases in the world. All the greats have taken part and won at some point, including Golden Miller Arkle, Desert Orchid, Best Mate, Long Run, Denman and of course, Kauto Star, to name just a few.
It’s been the highlight of the Cheltenham Festival since 1924 and as a result, comes with the biggest purse of the three races, with £625,000 up for grabs. The winner will take home the tidy sum of £351,688, which is more than the Betfair Chase and the King George VI combined.
Golden Miller is the most decorated horse with 5 Gold Cup wins to his name from 1932 to 1936, showing dominance that has never since been repeated nor likely ever will.
Winners and Near Misses
There has only been one winner of the Stayers Chase Triple Crown, and that was the unbelievable Kauto Star back in 2006/07 in just the second running of the bonus fund. This was when one of the greatest jump horses of all time was at their absolute peak, winning a string of Group 1 races leading up to and then following this triumph.
There have been a number of near misses as well. In fact, Kauto Star nearly went two for two when they won the Betfair Chase and the King George VI Chase in 2007/08. He then came up against an imperious horse in Denman, which lighted the start of one of the most famous rivalries in British horse racing history.
Whilst the Triple Crown was never on for Kauto Star in 2008/09, he did win the last two races in the King George VI and the Cheltenham Festival that year, before again winning the first two just a year later in 2009/10. This time he lost out to Imperial Commander at Cheltenham, before repeating the process in 2011/12, but then losing to Synchronised again at Cheltenham.
More recently, Silviniaco Conti went close in 2014/15, winning the first two races, as did Cue Card just a year later. But both ultimately failed to make it three from three, losing to Coneygree and Don Cossack, respectively.