The Sky Bet Chase was first run in 1948 as the Great Yorkshire Chase. Running at the end of January at Doncaster, this tough three mile handicap chase is not for the faint hearted.
This race makes up part of an excellent Saturday of National Hunt action, and whilst Trials Day at Cheltenham may attract much of the attention, the fare on offer at Doncaster isn’t too bad either, with the excellent seven-race card headlined by this valuable chase contest.
Sky Bet Handicap Chase Course Map (Jumps Course)
Sky Bet Handicap Chase Past Winners
|2023||Cooper's Cross||16/1||Stuart Coltherd||Sam Coltherd|
|2022||Windsor Avenue||40/1||Brian Ellison||Sean Quinlan|
|2021||Takingrisks||40/1||Nicky Richards||Sean Quinlan|
|2020||Ok Corral||9/1||Nicky Henderson||Derek O'Connor|
|2019||Go Conquer||8/1||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Tom Bellamy|
|2018||Wakanda||8/1||Sue Smith||Henry Brooke|
|2017||Ziga Boy||10/1||Alan King||Tom Bellamy|
|2016||Ziga Boy||8/1||Alan King||Brendan Powell|
|2015||If In Doubt||4/1||Philip Hobbs||Tony McCoy|
|2014||The Rainbow Hunter||25/1||Kim Bailey||Nick Schofield|
|2012||Calgary Bay||12/1||Henrietta Knight||Dominic Elsworth|
|2009||Big Fella Thanks||9/2||Paul Nicholls||Christian Williams|
|2008||An Accordion||11/2||David Pipe||J W Farrelly|
|2007||Simon||7/1||John Spearing||Andrew Thornton|
|2006||A Glass in Thyme||16/1||B N Pollock||Andrew Thornton|
|2005||Colourful Life||9/1||Paul Nicholls||Joe Tizzard|
|2004||Tyneandthyneagain||7/1||Richard Guest||Henry Oliver|
About the Sky Bet Chase: A January Handicapping Highlight
The North Yorkshire track of Doncaster might be more commonly associated with the flat racing sphere – largely due to the fact that it stages the longest running British Classic in the form of the St Leger Stakes. But the Town Moor venue is also an avid supporter of the National Hunt game, laying on high quality contests throughout the winter months.
Of the notable National Hunt events to be held at the track, one of the most popular – at least from a betting perspective – is this late January Premier Handicap affair. Going under the registered title of the Great Yorkshire Chase, the inaugural edition of the race took place back in 1948. With a three mile trip, and regularly testing ground at the track, stamina is very much the number one requirement for success in this one.
Weather the First Fence to Negotiate
In common with most contests taking placed in the UK at this time of year, the wonderful British weather has proven to be an impossible obstacle to negotiate in this event on a number of occasions.
The first of the 17 abandonments of the race to date – as of 2023 – was actually due to the death of King George VI ahead of the 1952 edition, but each of the subsequent 16 cancelations have been a result of some combination of snow and frost. But for Southwell stepping in to stage the race in both 2006 and 2007, the number of missing editions would be even greater.
Such is the competitive nature of this event, that to land the prize once is a notable achievement. To do so twice therefore merits plenty of respect. As of 2022 just the one horse has managed feat, namely Ziga Boy from the yard of Alan King. He was three and a quarter lengths too good for the field in 2016, and he defied a four pound higher mark in 2017 to score in grand style by three and a half lengths.
Ziga Boy’s Sky Bet Chase Victories
|Position||2016 Race||2017 Race|
|First||Ziga Boy||10st 0lbs||8/1||Ziga Boy||10 st 11lbs||10/1|
|Second||Coologue||10st 6lbs||9/1||Looking Well||10st 1lbs||18/1|
|Third||Buywise||11st 4lbs||8/1||Another Hero||10st 10lbs||8/1|
|Fourth||Pass The Hat||9st 13lbs||10/1||Out Sam||10st 10lbs||8/1|
As impressive as Ziga Boy was, he isn’t the most talented runner to have come home in front here. That honour is shared by Knock Hard (1953) and Bregawn (1983) who both went on to claim top spot in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. E.S.B. (1957) and Nicolaus Silver (1961) meanwhile each took this on the back of a win in the previous seasons Grand National at Aintree.
Rimell Leads The Way
No trainer has really managed to compile a truly formidable record in his event over the years – a testament to just how competitive the race invariably is – but we do have ten previous multiple winners of the contest, including a handful of real legends of the training game.
It is four-time Grand National winner Fred Rimell who leads the way having also registered a quartet of successes in this event. Gordon Richards won’t be catching Rimell now, but the likes of Nigel Twiston-Davies, Alan King and Paul Nicholls just might, with the trio likely having a good few years of success ahead of them yet.
Nine The Magic Number
We have a familiar pattern emerging when it comes to the age of winner of this contest, with the middle ground seemingly being the place to be. Possibly due to younger performers lacking a little in the way of experience for a race of this nature, and those in double figures likely to have very little room for manoeuvre from a handicapping perspective, it is the eight and nine year olds who are out in front when it comes to number of winners. The nine year olds were just shading it as of 2023 with 19 wins in total.