Ultima Handicap Chase Betting Tips

Ultima Handicap Chase Betting Tips

It’s back! The 2024 Cheltenham Festival kicks off on Tuesday, with a near-washout predicted for Irish-trained horses this week. On that point, we’re not so sure.

The Ultima Handicap Chase, also known as the Festival Trophy, has been under this sponsor since 2015 as formerly a Grade 3 and now a Premier Handicap Chase.

We’re soft overnight for day one, though the weather forecast isn’t bad at all and the main contenders are all expected to see out their respective distances so there aren’t too many excuses.

We have 23 runners for this year’s Ultima, all taking on 20 fences of the Old Course across a grand total of three miles and one furlong.

£125,000 of the £1.2m offered on day one is fought for in this race, one usually won by very good stayers. Corach Rambler won the last two renewals with Vintage Clouds successful before that.

We’ve crunched the numbers and wheedled out the no-hopers, leaving us with these six main contenders: 

Main Contenders

Chianti Classico 

Kim Bailey and Davis Bass team up with Chianti Classico, a seven-year-old with an early chasing record of two wins and a second.

Last January he was relentless when winning a handicap hurdle over 2m5½f, while he comfortably saw out three miles at Chepstow on his chase debut.

He’s improved since then, even in defeat last time at Kempton when he stayed on well at the death. He will be seen to best effect around Cheltenham we’d think and is clearly a leading contender.

Famous Bridge 

Nicky Richards’ Famous Bridge carries the classic Hemmings colours, silks synonymous with top class staying types. Indeed, Famous Bridge was sent off joint-favourite for the Grand National Trial at Haydock when last seen.

He unseated that day but we don’t take lightly his market position that day and if he’d ultimately gone close, he would have been putting in the sort of performance that would see him do so again here off this mark. With that, he makes the shortlist.


Meetingofthewaters has been in the news owing to him having only been bought by JP McManus less than a week before his Cheltenham Festival date.

The last-minute change of ownership has increased confidence in this horse and he is improving. His wins at Cork and Leopardstown have shown him to be very capable and clearly McManus thinks he’s well in, though he will also be one for the future and he’s a little short in the market for this race.

The Goffer 

Another horse to have confused the market somewhat this week is Gordon Elliott’s The Goffer.

This horse is challenging for favouritism, all despite him being 2-11 in chases overall having been very poor of late. On the balance of his form he is regressing, even at seven years old, having reached a peak when fourth in this race last year.

He was favourite in October for the Munster National so he may have been showing plenty at home and better is expected, but he’s been off 142 days and this will have to have been a real job if he goes and wins.


Trelawne is an eight-year-old with only four chases under his belt, so with that we’d expect that there’s more to come from Kim Bailey’s representative, the trainer holding a strong hand.

The two downsides here are that this horse hasn’t seen out this sort of trip just yet and, despite being lightly raced over fences, hasn’t exactly improved in lumps from race one through to race four.


It was a little surprising to see Victtorino available at such large odds, owing to chasing form figures of 1174 recently and coming from Venetia Williams’ yard.

He has won at Ascot over three miles and let’s not forget that it’s the Berkshire finish that takes more getting than the Cheltenham hill, contrary to popular belief. On the other hand, he didn’t have a change of gear back there last time and against this classier opposition he may just need something like that.


A predictably competitive and difficult handicap for punters, with waters somewhat muddied by Meetingofthewaters and The Goffer.

We get this very close indeed, Famous Bridge and Trelawne both being runners which would not surprise if they were to score, though we ultimately just about go for CHIANTI CLASSICO.

Kim Bailey’s runner is an improver and nicely handicapped, will be staying on up the hill and who should be ready for a new career high.

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