Dec. 12, 2006 – Previously run at nearby Caerleon, the race was moved to Chepstow, Wales’ premier course, after the closure of that track back in 1948.
Although the contest doesn’t come close to the amount of attention the Grand National at Aintree receives it’s still one of the most competitive races on the National Hunt calendar, and is always well contested.
Run over 3m 5 1/2f, Chepstow’s demanding track is often made a lot tougher with soft ground conditions in December and only horses with extreme stamina need apply. The ante post market is normally formed a couple of months before, so there is always plenty of activity in the betting in the build up to the big race.
The runners complete two full circuits of the Welsh track ending with their gruelling straight where the runners have to tackle five fences. Being such testing conditions winners here will find the Grand National, over Aintree’s flatter course, a fair bit easier to deal with.
Notable past winners have seen Martin Pipe’s Carvill’s Hill run his rivals ragged in 1991 with his emphatic front-running performance, while only two past winners in the last 22 years have gone on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in their careers (Burrough Hill Lad 83 and Cool Ground 92)
Earth Summits win in 1997 is also worth noting as the dour stayer went on to win the Grand National in the same season.
Looking at the last nine runnings some key trends that stand out are – Trainer Paul Nicholls has won the last two runnings 2004 and 2005, also the favourite has only won one of those nine runs, while all nine previous winners have carried no more than 10-13. The other thing of interest is that five of the last nine winners all had previous course experience, running at the track in their previous run.
This year L’Aventure bids for a repeat win and is widely tipped in the betting, while the popular grey Bob Bob Bobbin has been laid out for this race for some time.
2005 – L’Aventure 14/1
2004 – Silver Birch 100/30 fav
2003 – Bindaree 10/1
2002 – Mini Sensation 8/1
2001 – Supreme Glory 10/1
2000 – Jocks Cross 14/1
1999 – Edmond 4/1
1998 – Kendal Cavalier 14/1
1997 – Earth Summit 25/1
1996 – Abandoned
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