Spring is in the air come late April and for the racing world that means a switch in focus from the jumps to the flat. This meeting at Sandown marks the perfect crossing over point, featuring as it does, top class contests both on the level and over obstacles. Here we take a look at the best odds and offers and provide our betting tips for one of the jumping highlights; The Celebration Chase.
This 2m chase contest was first run at Sandown in 2001. Featuring 13 fences in total, the contest is open to all chasers aged five and older and offers £125,000 in total prize money.
Celebration Chase Preview and Betting Tips 2019
The National Hunt season is drawing to a close but racing fans still have some big contests to enjoy before jumps racing stops for the summer. The Celebration Chase at Sandown is one such race and the fans will come out in their numbers once again to see Altior attempt to win yet another Grade 1.
The superstar will not have things all his own way though and many are hopeful that Cyrname will give Altior his biggest test of the season but it’s Nicky Henderson’s nine-year-old who tops the betting so something very special will have to happen to stop him.
No End in Sight to Altior’s Winning Run
There are many reasons why Altior’s price is so short for the Celebration Chase. One of the biggest is that there is a real doubt as to whether Cyrname will even show up at Sandown on Saturday. Paul Nicholls’ seven-year-old is the highest rated chaser in training at the moment and certainly has the class to challenge even a horse of Altior’s calibre over the 1 mile 7½ furlong trip of the Celebration Chase but Nicholls is being coy about Cyrname’s participation.
The big concern for Nicholls and the team at Ditcheat appears to be the conditions underfoot. Cyrname will not run at Sandown unless there is significant rain in the local area and the ground moves away from good. More cynical racing fans believe that the Cyrname team don’t want to face the prospect of losing to Altior but either way the race is surely going to go the way of the favourite.
If, as his odds of 2/5 with bet365 suggest, Altior does win on Saturday afternoon it will be a record 19th straight jumps win in a row. That is a remarkable achievement but many racing fans are hopeful that the great Altior will finally be tested over longer trips next season. That talk can wait for another day though. The Celebration Chase is going to be all about Altior as he surely wins again, albeit at a price that isn’t exactly tempting.
Improving Outsider Could be Worthy of Each Way Support
The one thing that connections of every other horse in the Celebration Chase field will be clinging to is that Altior doesn’t always make things easy for himself. He has had the odd hairy moment whether due to a hairy jump or hitting a flat spot which may just give one of the outsiders a chance of pulling off a shock result.
Connections of Vosne Romanee are under no illusions that their eight-year-old is nowhere near Altior’s level but strange things can happen at this time of year and he has been steadily moving up the handicaps with some solid performances. He has winning form on good ground and is getting used to being in the shakeup in the closing stages of short chases so a speculative each way bet may be in order at 33/1 with Ladbrokes.
Celebration Chase Previous Winners
- 2018 – Altior – jockey Nico de Boinville, trainer Nicky Henderson
- 2017 – Altior – jockey Nico de Boinville, trainer Nicky Henderson
- 2016 – Sprinter Sacre – jockey Nico de Boinville, trainer Nicky Henderson
- 2015 – Special Tiara – jockey Noel Fehily, trainer Henry De Bromhead
- 2014 – Sire De Grugy – jockey Jamie Moore, trainer Gary Moore
- 2013 – Sire De Grugy – jockey Jamie Moore, trainer Gary Moore
- 2012 – Sanctuaire – jockey Daryl Jacob, trainer Paul Nicholls
- 2011 – French Opera – jockey Tony McCoy, trainer Nicky Henderson
- 2010 – I’m So Lucky – jockey Tom Scudamore, trainer David Pipe
- 2009 – Twist Magic – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Paul Nicholls
- 2008 – Andreas – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Paul Nicholls
- 2007 – Dempsey – jockey Timmy Murphy, trainer Carl Llewellyn
Celebration Chase History
This contest came into being somewhat accidently just after the turn of the century. With the foot and mouth crisis resulting in the cancellation of the Cheltenham Festival in 2001, alternative venues were sought for the major championship contests. Sandown did its bit by staging a two-mile event called the Championship Chase as a replacement for that years Queen Mother Champion Chase.
So popular did this event prove that it returned again in 2002 when it was run in memory of the Queen Mother who died that year. The contest has remained in place ever since, going under its current title of Celebration Chase since 2005.
Featuring as part of a top class dual flat/jumps meeting, the classification of this race has fluctuated a little over the years but it was granted Grade 1 status once again in 2014. Looking at the list of previous winners here, the event is more than deserving of that top tier ranking.
Multiple Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls has quickly developed an affinity with this event. Getting off the mark with Cenkos in the second edition of the race in 2002, Nicholls had notched up an impressive five victories by 2012. That haul puts him three wins clear of his nearest pursuer in the top trainer ranks here. Amongst the jockeys it is the greatest ever, Tony McCoy who leads the way with three wins.
Cenkos became the first dual winner of the race when – having finished second in 2003 – he bounced back to reclaim his crown in 2004. Also taking back to back renewals are Champion Chasers Sire De Grugy (2013 and 2014) and Altior (2017 and 2018).
The other Champion Chasers to taste success in this contest are Edredon Bleu who won the inaugural edition, Special Tiara who took this in 2015 before finally getting his nose in front in the Cheltenham event in 2017, and of course the majestic Sprinter Sacre who signed off his brilliant career when demolishing the field by 15 lengths here in 2016. The greatest jumps horse we have seen in our lifetime must go down as the best ever winner of the race.