The Christmas period in Britain brings one of the top staying chases of the entire season in the form of the King George VI Chase and Ireland is no different with the Savills Chase on day three of Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival.
The race’s first running took place in 1986 as a 2 mile 4 furlong contest with the trip upped to 3 miles in 1992. The race had for many years been known as the Lexus Chase due to a long running sponsorship deal with the car manufacturer but has had various names changes since its inception.
Some familiar favourites have taken this race in the past including Beef or Salmon, Best Mate, Denman and Tidal Bay.
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: 28th December 2020
- Winner: A Plus Tard
- SP: 15/2
- Trainer: Henry De Bromhead
- Jockey: Darragh O'Keeffe
The big Irish Christmas action comes at Leopardstown as the track lays on its annual four-day December Festival. The big highlight on Day 2 at the meeting is this three mile Grade 1 Chase contest which offers £150,000 in total prize money. The ground at the Dublin venue is currently described as yielding.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Yielding||3m||Grade 1||£150,000||14 Runners||1/5 1-3|
Savills Chase Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2020. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
In large part down to the remarkable three successes of Beef or Salmon, it is Michael Hourigan who boasts the lead amongst trainers in this race with a total of five successes. However, Hourigan is now long since retired, and the best record of the trainers on show this year belongs to Noel Meade who sits just one behind on four wins. The market would suggest that Meade may struggle to add to his tally this year though as his sole entry Tous Est Permis is amongst the rank outsiders.
The stats have been against the older contenders in this race, with 30 of the 33 editions to have been run to date being landed by a runner aged eight years old or younger – a stat which speaks against the nine year olds Presenting Percy, Jett and Balko Des Flos.
This race hasn’t been a great one for supporters of the market leader, with the past 10 editions seeing just the one winning outright favourite – and two successful joint favourites – handing favourite backers a loss of £4.21 to £1 level stakes.
|Minella Indo||5/2||165||Henry De Bromhead||Rachael Blackmore|
|Delta Work||9/2||170||Gordon Elliott||Jack Kennedy|
|Kemboy||13/2||168||Willie Mullins||David Mullins|
Minella Indo – 5/2
Henry De Bromhead is no stranger to success on the big stage, but so far this event has eluded the grasp of the multiple Grade 1 winning handler. He could scarcely have come much closer in recent times though having sent out the runner-up here in each of the past three seasons. And perhaps this will be the year in which De Bromhead breaks his duck, as it is his hat-trick-seeking seven year old, Minella Indo, who currently sits out in front at the head of the market.
An extremely high-class hurdler, this son of Beat Hollow scored twice in Grade 1 company over this three mile trip – including in the 2019 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival – and has wasted little time in transferring that ability to the larger obstacles. Second to Champ in last season’s remarkable RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase, he is a perfect two from two so far in the current campaign having scooted up by 25 lengths in a Grade 3 at Wexford, and sauntered clear for a seven and a half length success last time out in a Grade 2 at Navan. He’s back up into a Grade 1 here, and will likely need a career best to prevail, but approaching his peak years now, he may well prove up to the task.
Delta Work – 9/2
This race doesn’t have quite the same record as the King George, for example, when it comes to repeat winners, but we have had three horses return to land the prize on more than one occasion in the past. One of two runners bidding to join multiple winners Beef Or Salmon, Maid Of Money and Rince Ri this year is Gordon Elliott’s defending champ, Delta Work.
Boasting five topflight chase wins, including four at around this trip, this Gigginstown House Stud runner boasts one of the most solid profiles in the field, particularly as he is also a perfect three from three in chase contests at this track. Some may be put off by that fact that he was beaten by more than six lengths into fifth on his seasonal return in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal, but he was beaten fully 16 lengths in that event prior to his success here 12 months ago and is a horse who invariably takes a big step forwards for his first run of the season. The excellent Jack Kennedy takes the ride and this one looks set to make a bold defence of his title.
Kemboy – 13/2
Another runner aiming for a second success in this race is the talented eight year old, Kemboy, from the yard of Willie Mullins. It was in this race in 2018 that this Voix Du Nord gelding first really announced himself in the staying chase division when routing his rivals with a scintillating seven and a half length success – a performance which saw him head into that year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup as the most fancied of the Mullins contingent. He made it no further that than the first fence that day but showed his win in this contest to be no fluke when slamming Clan Des Obeaux by nine lengths in the Betway Bowl at Aintree on his next start. If anywhere near those levels here, he may well take some stopping.
That is the real question mark though, as he hasn’t been quite at his peak in each of his past four chase starts, including when behind Delta Work in this race 12 months ago, and again in the Irish Gold Cup over this course and distance in September. His recent comeback at Thurles is easier to forgive as the soft ground that day was never likely to suit, and that effort should at least have served to boost his fitness ahead of this. As an eight year old, he’s a decent fit on the age trend, and boasting overall form figures of 2142 at the track, he is rarely too far away around here.
Savills Chase Winners
|2020||A Plus Tard||15/2||Henry De Bromhead||Darragh O'Keeffe|
|2019||Delta Work||11/2||Gordon Elliott||Jack Kennedy|
|2018||Kemboy||8/1||Willie Mullins||David Mullins|
|2017||Road To Respect||8/1||Noel Meade||Sea Flanagan|
|2016||Outlander||11/1||Gordon Elliott||Jack Kennedy|
|2015||Don Poli||4/6||Willie Mullins||Bryan Cooper|
|2014||Road To Riches||4/1||Noel Meade||Bryan Cooper|
|2013||Bobs Worth||11/4||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty|
|2012||Tidal Bay||9/2||Paul Nicholls||Ruby Walsh|
|2011||Synchronised||8/1||Jonjo O'Neill||A P McCoy|
About the Savills Chase: Christmas Festival Highlight
Irish racing fans certainly aren’t short changed when it comes to high quality racing festivals – particularly over the jumps – with the Irish racing programme laying on a whole host of excellent events over the course of the year. And what better time to celebrate the jumping game than at Christmas? Step forward Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival. Kicking off on Boxing Day, this four-day offering provides a real feast of hurdling and chasing excellence.
Each of the four days has its feature contests, but for many it is this Grade 1, three mile chase affair, held on the third day, which acts as the centrepiece for the whole meeting. First run in 1986, when taking place over the shorter trip of two of a half miles, and known as the Black & White Whisky Champion Chase, the distance was first increased to three miles in 1992. The contest has benefitted from strong sponsorship over the years, with Ericsson and Lexus having lent their support in previous years. Property firm Savills are the latest to add their name to this list having taken over sponsorship of the race ahead of the 2018 edition.
The famous maroon silks with the white star of Gigginstown House Stud have become one of the most recognisable sights in Irish – and indeed British – racing in the 21st century, with the owner/breeder operation tasting huge success in many major events. Success which has certainly been felt in this particular contest.
It did take Gigginstown a little while to claim top spot here, with the owners racking up five seconds and two third places between 2005 and 2013. Breaking their duck with Road To Riches in 2014, they have been tough to keep out of the winners enclosure since.
Between 2014 and 2019, Gigginstown registered five wins, three seconds and three third placed finishes – including a famous 1-2-3 in 2017.
Three Courses Of Success For Beef Or Salmon
The fact that five-time winner Michael Hourigan is the most successful trainer in the history of this race, is largely down to just the one horse, with the hugely popular Beef Or Salmon being responsible for no fewer than three of those victories.
Beef Or Salmon wasn’t the greatest of travellers – never really making his presence felt in the major British contests – but was a formidable chaser in his homeland. His hat-trick of wins in this race in 2002, 2004 and 2005, being just three of a career haul of 10 Grade 1 triumphs.
Beef Or Salmon in the Leopardstown December Chase
Michael Hourigan’s star may not have shown his best in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but that hasn’t been true of all previous winners of this, with Imperial Call (1997), Best Mate (2003), Denman (2007), Synchronised (2011) and Bobs Worth (2013) each also boasting a win in the Cheltenham Festival showpiece on their CV.
Elder Statesmen Up Against It
This race may be open to all chasers aged five years and older, but, as of 2019, none so young has ever managed to come home in front. That is perhaps not too surprising, with it being pretty rare for a chaser to hit their peak at so young an age.
Of more significance is the poor record of those aged nine and older, with only three from that age bracket managing to enter the winner’s enclosure. Special mention must therefore go to Tidal Bay who defied his 11 years when landing the prize for Paul Nicholls in 2012.
Overall six to eight years of age has been the place to be, with over 90% of the winners up to and including the 2019 edition falling within that range.