Cotswold Chase

The Cotswold Chase is a Grade 2 steeplechase run over 3 miles, 1 furlong and 156 yards on the New Course at Cheltenham in late January. Open to horses aged five years and upwards, the race is scheduled for Festival Trials Day, six weeks ahead of the Cheltenham Festival, where it serves as a trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The Cotsworld Chase was inaugurated, as the Tote Double Chase, in 1980 and, notwithstanding weather-related abandonments, has been run under various sponsored titles ever since. The race was awarded Listed status following the revision of the National Hunt Pattern in 1989 and, although demoted for much of the nineties, was promoted to Grade 2 status in 1999.

Since 1980, just three horses – namely Little Owl (1981), Master Oats (1995) and Looks Like Trouble (2000) – have completed the Cotswold Chase/Cheltenham Gold Cup double in the same season. That said, See More Business (1998, 2001) won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1999, Native River (2021) did so in 2018 and Neptune Collonges (2011) and Many Clouds (2015, 2017) won the Grand National in 2012 and 2015, respectively. Paul Nicholls, trainer of See More Business and Neptune Collonges, also saddled Taranis (2010) and Frodon (2019) to victory and is the most successful handler in the history of the Cotswold Chase.

Recent Charlie Hall Chase winner Bravemansgame is currently 16/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but Nicholls has expressed reservations about his credentials for the ‘Blue Riband’ event. He said, ‘He still doesn’t convince me he is a dour three-and-a-quarter-mile stayer until he proves otherwise…’ Trends-wise, just two of the last ten favourites for the Cotswold Chase have won, but previous course form, preferably winning form, and an outing within the last eight weeks are important factors to bear in mind.

Annie Power

Annie Power, who was retired from racing following a very impressive 18-length victory in the Aintree Hurdle in April, 2016 – which earnt her her highest-ever Timeform rating of 170+ – was an extraordinary racemare who won fifteen of her seventeen starts. She is probably best remembered for being one of just four mares, and the first since Flakey Dove in 1994, to win the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. However, her 4½-length victory over My Tent Or Yours in the 2016 renewal of the two-mile hurdling championship – for which she had been supplemented, at a cost of £20,000 to connections – was her third consecutive appearance at the Cheltenham Festival.

Bred and originally owned by Eamon Cleary, Annie Power was bought by Rich and Susannah Ricci and transferred to Willie Mullins after winning two ‘bumpers’ for her original trainer, Jim Bolger, in August, 2012. She won her first seven starts over hurdles, including the Irish Stallions EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship at Fairyhouse, by a very easy 12 lengths, en route to her first appearance at the Cheltenham Festival. Despite racing over a distance beyond 2 miles 4½ furlongs for the first time in her career, she was sent off 11/8 favourite for the 2014 World Hurdle, but suffered what would be her only defeat in sixteen completed starts.

The following year, Annie Power returned to the Cheltenham Festival for the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, in which she boasted far and away the best form and was consequently sent off 1/2 favourite. A flying leap at the second-last flight took her into the lead and she was in command, with the race at her mercy, approaching the final flight. However, Annie Power took off a full stride too soon, clipped the top bar and fell; in so doing, she saved the bookmaking industry an estimated £50 million after victories for Douvan, Un De Sceaux and Faugheen – all hot favourites and, like Annie Power, all trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh – in the first three races of the day.