Last year’s race
- Winner: Domesday Book
- Jockey: Miss G Andrews
- Trainer: Stuart Edmunds
- Owner: Mr J Humberstone
- Age: 7 Weight: 11st 4lb
- Starting Price: 40/1
- Season Form Figures: 5683
- Previous Best: 4th - EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase (Grade A), Punchestown (Apr 2016)
A 0-145 handicap chase ridden by amateur riders, the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup doesn’t overly capture the imagination outside of Festival die-hards despite featuring three future Gold Cup winners in the 1980s.
Being an amateur-riders’ race, jockeyship is vital. The 1-2-3-4-5 last season were ridden by the more experienced non-claiming amateurs, as were five of the first six places in 2016. This, following back-to-back 1-2-3s underlining that this race is as much about the jockey as it is the horse. In fact, 30 of the last 34 win-and-place positions were filled by non-claiming amateurs as were ten of the last 12 winners.
Jamie Codd has won the race on four occasions (twice for David Pipe) but Derek O’Connor has had the misfortune to be beaten less than a length into second on three occasions, Pendra being the latest last year. Although Nina Carberry has yet to win in 11 attempts, she has notched up a top-five position on eight occasions.
30 of the last 34 win-and-place positions were filled by non-claiming amateurs as were ten of the last 12 winners.
What age winners are doesn’t seem to matter anymore but the nine most recent winners all carried 11st 4lb+. The fact that the four highest rated winners since 1997 were achieved in the last nine years, which also just happens to have been the nine most compressed renewals, is no coincidence.
Only Cause Of Causes did not contest a handicap of winners last time out since the novice, Glyde Court, in 1985. Even the novices that have won recently were contesting a handicap last time out rather than a novice chase. Gordon Elliott was knocking on the door with two seconds and a third in the previous three years before he struck with the J P McManus-owned Cause Of Causes two years ago so he makes most appeal of the Irish. McManus has a special affinity with the amateur-rider races at the meeting and won all three contests two years ago and his Pendra looked like he was going to give him a third Kim Muir win in the last six years until caught close home off top weight on his seasonal debut by the 40/1 outsider Domesday Book.
Donald McCain has saddled two winners and a close second so his entries must be respected. Both of his winners were for leading owner, Trevor Hemmings, whose colours were also successful with the Nicky Henderson-trained Juveigneur. Henderson has won the race three times including a 1-2 in 2002 and 2005.
David Pipe moved to within one winner of his father’s trio of success when The Package won three years ago having also prepared the 1-2 in 2011. Make special note of his horses arriving here of a break of over three months. Three of Pond House’s winners had placed at a previous Festival in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase. This has not been Paul Nicholls’s race at all however with just one placed horse from 19 starters.
Seven of the last 13 winners contested a handicap chase at Cheltenham earlier in the season, three of which ran in the BetVictor Handicap Chase over 3m3½f at The November Meeting here in November won by Perfect Candidate. Sixteen of the last 17 winners ran over at least three miles last time out.
At a glance summary
- Carrying 11st 4lb+
- Trained by David Pipe, Gordon Elliott, Nicky Henderson or Donald McCain
- Ran in a handicap chase at Cheltenham earlier in the season
- Ridden by Jamie Codd or Derek O’Connor
- Owned by Trevor Hemmings or J P McManus
- Ridden by a claiming amateur rider
- Not run over 3m+ last time out
- Not contested a handicap last time out
- Trained by Paul Nicholls