Usually forming a major part of the highly valued Trials Day at Cheltenham is the 41-year-old Cotswold Chase, though the 2021 edition was run at Sandown on Contenders Day due to the cancellation of the Cheltenham meeting.
It’s a race that often includes Cheltenham Gold Cup hopefuls as well as Grand National winners in the form of Neptune Collonges and Many Clouds in recent years.
The first running of this race was in 1980 and it is one of the last big three mile chases before the March Festival.
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 6th February 2021
- Winner: Native River
- SP: 13/2
- Trainer: Colin Tizzard
- Jockey: Richard Johnson
One of the major staying chases in the lead up to the Cheltenham Festival, the Cotswold Chase is usually from Prestbury Park itself over a distance of 3m1½f. After bad weather caused the abandonment of Trials Days, the race now takes place over 3m at Sandown this Saturday. Offering £63,000 in total prize money, the contest regularly attracts runners with Gold Cup aspirations and looks to have done so once again in 2021, despite a slightly reduced field for Sandown. Set to be run on heavy ground, the rearranged renewal may well turn into a real war of attrition.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Heavy||3m||Grade 2||£63,000||6 Runners||1/4 1-2|
Cotswold Chase Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2021. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
Successful twice in the past 10 years, and five times in total, it is Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls who boasts the all-time lead in this race. Nicholls has Yala Enki entered this year with the popular 11 year old looking set to be turned out quickly following his success in the Portman Cup at Wetherby last weekend.
To date, Tony McCoy is the only jockey to enter the winners' enclosure on three occasions in this event. Bidding to join McCoy this year is the man who chased the tail of the greatest ever jumps jockey throughout his career, Richard Johnson. Johnson will have the services of one of his favourite partners in crime as he once again gets the leg-up aboard Native River for Colin Tizzard.
There have been no real outright shocks in the past decade, with the largest priced winner being Many Clouds at 8/1 in 2017. But nor has the contest been particularly kind to the market leader, with last year’s champ, Santini, being the only winning favourite over this period, handing jolly backers a loss of £7.38 to £1 level stakes.
|Santini||5/2||170||Nicky Henderson||Aidan Coleman|
|Bristol De Mai||9/4||169||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Daryl Jacob|
|Saint Calvados||11/2||167||Harry Whittington||Gavin Sheehan|
Santini – 5/2
Deemed only a 50-50 shot to line up by trainer Nicky Henderson as we headed into the week of the original race, defending champion Santini made the list of final declarations after all, and the extra week of rest ahead of this race could do him good. As the top-rated horse in the field – albeit by only a single pound – and being thoroughly proven at this venue, he’s going to be there or thereabouts.
The slight concern for those who were planning to back this one is that the change of venue might not do him any favours. Boasting overall form figures of 13212 at Cheltenham, this strapping son of Milan looked a good bet when the race was at Prestbury Park, particularly as there is significant substance to those form figures. Twice a winner at the Trials meeting, the latest of those “2’s” came when closing all the way to the line to be beaten by only a neck in last season’s Gold Cup.
That’s high-class form whichever way you look at it and but whether that will transfer well to Sandown remains to be seen, though he did win a listed chase here back in 2019. Fit and well following an, admittedly slightly underwhelming, fifth-place finish in the King George last time out, the mount of Aidan Coleman will still be the choice of many.
Bristol De Mai – 9/4
Santini may ultimately have pulled over three lengths clear at the line in this race 12 months ago, but he was by no means an easy winner, having been made to pull out all the stops on the run to the line in what proved to be a real thriller. And thankfully for racing fans, the horse to have given the Henderson runner so much trouble in 2020 returns for another crack at the prize, with the ever-popular grey Bristol De Mai also amongst the final entries.
A winner of nine of his 27 career chase outings, including four at Grade 1 level, the 10 year old arrives on the back of just the one start in the current campaign. That sole outing was a good one though as the apple of jockey Daryl Jacob’s eye successfully regained his Betfair Chase crown when seeing off Clan Des Obeaux at Haydock.
That effort suggests he is as well as ever despite having now entered into double digits, but the question will be can he prove as effective away from his beloved Haydock? Considering all four of those Grade 1 wins have come at the Merseyside venue, that’s a fair enough enquiry, although overall form figures of 321 at Sandown are by no means poor, particularly as the win came in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase, albeit back in 2016. Perfectly at home on soft or even heavy ground, he once again looks like he could run well and has snuck ahead of Santini to become the 9/4 favourite.
Saint Calvados – 11/2
As a previous Gold Cup winner, Native River merits the utmost respect, but he is 11 years old now and, with the Colin Tizzard yard not firing on all cylinders at present, a bigger danger to the top two may come in the shape of the Harry Whittington-trained eight year old, Saint Calvados.
Only the fourth-best horse in the field on ratings, the mount of Gavin Sheehan may initially appear to have work to do to shake up these rivals, but once penalties for previous wins are taken into account he actually emerges as the best in at the weights under these conditions. Like Bristol De Mai, this one has been sighted just the once so far this season, but again that was a pretty solid outing when finishing fourth in the King George, with Santini a neck adrift in fifth at the line.
Six pounds better off with that rival here, he has plenty in his favour. He does however also have one significant question to answer regarding this distance, as all of his previous wins have come at distances of 2m4½f or shorter. Not finishing particularly strongly in the King George, if he does have any stamina limitations they will be thoroughly exposed on the heavy ground. He is an intriguing contender nonetheless.
Cotswold Chase Winners
|2021*||Native River||13/2||Colin Tizzard||Richard Johnson|
|2020||Santini||13/8||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville|
|2019||Frodon||9/4||Paul Nicholls||Bryony Frost|
|2018||Definitly Red||7/1||Brian Ellison||Danny Cook|
|2017||Many Clouds||8/1||Oliver Sherwood||Leighton Aspell|
|2016||Smad Place||9/2||Alan King||Richard Johnson|
|2015||Many Clouds||4/1||Oliver Sherwood||Leighton Aspell|
|2014||The Giant Bolster||6/1||David Bridgewater||Tom Scuadmore|
|2013||Cape Tribulation||7/1||Malcom Jefferson||Denis O'Regan|
|2012||Midnight Chase||11/2||Neil Mulholland||Dougie Costello|
*2021 race run at Sandown on Contenders Day.
About the Cotswold Chase: Gold Cup Pointers
The countdown to the season-defining Cheltenham Festival is well and truly on by the time we reach the tail end of January each year, with trials season in full swing. When it comes to the preliminaries to March’s main course, there are few more significant than those staged at Cheltenham racecourse during January’s official Trials Day. A wide variety of runners are catered for on the card, including those whose main objective is a tilt at the big one of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Taking place over a trip of 3m1f 156yards and held on the New Course, the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase acts as the ideal testing ground for potential Gold Cup candidates each year. Open to chasers aged five years and older, the race features 21 fences in all, prior to the ultimate lung-busting test that is the famed Cheltenham Hill.
First run in 1980, the race takes its officially registered title from the range of rolling hills in the region. It has however also featured the name of various sponsors in its title over the years, with the Tote, Timeform, wine company Bibendum and Betbright all having previously lent their support to the contest.
Pointing the Way to Future Success
Touted as one of the season’s big trials for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the race hasn’t proven to be the most prolific in highlighting the winner of March’s main event, but four runners have backed up a win here with success in the classiest chase of them all, Little Owl (1981), Master Oats (1995), See More Business (1998) and Looks Like Trouble (2000) being the quartet to achieve the famous double.
The 2020 Cotswold Chase winner Santini was the latest horse to come close to doing the double, finishing second by just a neck in the following Gold Cup to Al Boum Photo.
Dual Cotswold Chase & Gold Cup Winners
|Horse||Trainer||Cotswold Chase Win(s)||Gold Cup Win|
|Looks Like Trouble||Noel Chance||2000||2000|
|See More Business||Paul Nicholls||1998 & 2001||1999|
|Master Oats||Kim Bailey||1995||1995|
|Little Owl||Peter Easterby||1981||1981|
Having returned to win this again in 2001, in addition to claiming two King George VI Chases, there is a decent argument that it is See More Business who should go down as the greatest winner in the history of the race.
Another dual winner of this race Many Clouds (2015, 2017) also landed the most famous chase in the world when coming home in front in the 2015 Grand National, with 2011 victor Neptune Collonges achieving the same feat when getting up close to home in the 2012 edition of the Aintree showpiece. 1997 winner One Man meanwhile proved equally proficient when stepped down in trip to claim Queen Mother Champion Chase glory in 1998.
7 to 9 the Key Ages
Given how prolific a combination they were, it is perhaps surprising that Martin Pipe and Tony McCoy registered just the one success in this race. It was however a significant one, with 1999 victor Cyfor Malta being the youngest winner in the history of the race at six years of age.
At the other end of the spectrum, See More Business (2001), Grey Abbey (2005) and See You Sometime (2006) all landed the prize at the grand old age of 11 years old. Overall though the race was been dominated by runners aged between seven and nine years old, with that bracket accounting for over 81% of the winners up to and including the 2020 renewal.
Nicholls the Name to Follow
This has been a pretty tough race for trainers to rack up much of a sequence over the years, with only three handlers managing to claim top spot on more than one occasion. Lesley Ann and Combs Ditch propelled David Elsworth to back to back success in 1982 and 1983, whilst the aforementioned Many Clouds accounted for both of Oliver Sherwood’s trips to the winners enclosure. Forty years separated Nicky Henderson’s two wins in this race. Having won the very first Costwold Chase in 1980, it wasn’t until the 2020 running that Henderson added to his tally. When it comes to training performance in this race though, there is one man who stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Now needing more than the digits on two hands in order to count his British Champion Trainer titles, Paul Nicholls has racked up an impressive five wins in this event, and given his proficiency with the staying chaser, it would take a brave man to bet against him building further on this total in the years to come.