Ascot Chase Day: Race List & Meeting Info

Ascot Racecourse Grandstand

Be it on the flat – via the momentous Royal Meeting and the King George – or over the jumps, the Berkshire venue of Ascot racecourse can be relied upon to lay on a steady stream of truly top-class equine entertainment over the course of the year. Close to the top of the pile when it comes to the National Hunt game is this mid-February meeting head-lined by one of the classiest staying chases of the season.

The Ascot Chase is a relatively new addition to the top tier chasing division having only come into being in 1995. It has nevertheless quickly established itself as one of the standout contests of its type of the season, thanks in no small part to a list of winners including the likes of One Man, Kauto Star and Cue Card. With the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase heading up an undercard also featuring a host of quality handicapping action, this is one pre-Cheltenham treat well worth tuning into.


Ascot Chase Day

RaceGradeLengthPrize MoneyAges
Novices' Hurdle Class 2 2m3½f £25,000 5 Years Old +
Reynoldstown Novices' Chase Grade 2 3m £40,000 5 Years Old +
Swinley Chase Listed 3m £75,000 5 Years Old +
Ascot Handicap Hurdle Class 2 2m3½f £45,000 4 Years Old +
Ascot Chase Grade 1 2m5f £150,000 5 Years Old +
Handicap Hurdle Class 3 2m7½f £16,800 4 Years Old +
British EBF Mares' NH Flat Race Class 4 1m7½f £7,000 4-6 Year Old Mares

Novices' Hurdle

Class 2, 2m3½f

Sponsored by Thames Materials at the time of writing, this race is open to novice hurdlers that are aged five and over. Run over two miles, three furlongs and fifty-eight yards, the race features ten hurdles for the participating horses to negotiation. The prize fund sits at over £15,000 for this Class 2 event and if the Going is Heavy then it takes about five minutes for the race to be run.

Reynoldstown Novices' Chase

Grade 2, 3m

Open to horses aged five and up, the Reynoldstown Novices' Chase is a Grade 2 steeplechase that is run over two miles, seven furlongs and one hundred and eighty yards on the Ascot course. There are twenty fences to be jumped during that distance, with the race being aimed at novice chasers, so it’s quite a challenging one for them.

Named in honour of Reynoldstown, who won the Grand National twice during the 1930s, it is often seen by those in the know as a trial for the RSA Insurance Novices' Chase, which takes place at Cheltenham in March. O'Faolains Boy is an example of why this is a race worth watching before you tune into the Festival, winning both events in the same season back in 2014.

Given that it’s a race for novice chasers, it obviously hasn’t been won by the same race more than once. It can give you a good indication of how good a jumper a horse is likely to become, however. Albertas Run won it 2008, for example, before going on to win the Ryanair Chase in 2010 and 2011 as well as the Melling Chase in 2010. Equally it’s worth keeping an eye on upcoming chasers, with Bacchanal winning the Stayers’ Hurdle in 2000 and then this the year after.

One Man was another successful jumper whose career started with winning this race in 1994 before going on to win the likes of the King George VI Chase and the Queen Mother Champion Chase. In terms of major successes, though, that honour lies with Little Owl and Royal Athlete. The latter won the Reynoldstown in 1990 and then the Grand National in 1995, whilst the former won this race in 1980 and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1981. Mr Mulligan also followed a Reynoldstown win in 1996 with Gold Cup victory the following year.

John Francombe, Peter Scudamore, Jamie Osborne and Mark Pitman and  have all guided their horses to more than one win in the race, but it’s Ruby Walsh and Barry Geraghty that share the honour of most successful jockeys thanks to three wins apiece. It’s not dissimilar in the world of trainers, given that Nigel Twiston-Davies, Martin Pipe, Jenny Pitman and Paul Nicholls have all seen their horses win it more than once but that isn’t good enough to take the ‘most successful trainer’ title away from Nicky Henderson.

Swinley Chase

Listed, 3m

This Listed handicap chase was first run in 2011, if you want to be strict about things, but given that it’s basically a reincarnation of what was the Whitbread Trial Handicap Chase it’s probably fairer to date it back to 1966. That’s what the record books do, anyway, with a gap between the last time that race was run in 1994 and the first time this one was seventeen years later.

It’s a race that is open to horses aged five and over and is run over two miles, seven furlongs and one hundred and eighty yards. Being a Listed handicap there’s no weight information to give you, with the handicapper instead informing each of the horses how much to carry according to their ability. It has twenty fences that need to be jumped during the running, so expect some fallers if the conditions aren’t very forgiving.

Even if you include the Whitbread Trial Handicap Chase into its history no horse has won this event more than once. Perhaps its most successful winner was Aldaniti, who won it in 1981 and won the Grand National that year too. Interestingly no jockey has won the race more than once either. The same cannot be said for trainers, however, with Josh Gifford and Venetia Williams both winning it twice and Fulke Walwyn and Bob Turnell winning it three times each.

Ascot Handicap Hurdle

Class 2, 2m3½f

The race was run in association with Ascot membership for the 2020 renewal, which probably tells you something about where it sits on the list of priorities for sponsors. Even so, the prize money available was more than £28,000 for a Class 2 event that is open to horses aged four and over. Run over two miles, three furlongs and fifty-eight yards, there are ten hurdles to be jumped.

Ascot Chase

Grade 1, 2m5f

The day’s feature race is a Grade 1 steeplechase that is for horses aged five and over. Run over two miles, five furlongs and eighty-five yards, the race tackles seventeen fences that must be jumped before horses can gallop down the final stretch.

First run in 1995, the Ascot Chase was known as the Comet Chase and run over two miles and three and a half furlongs during its more formative years. It was also run on a Wednesday, replacing the Whitbread Trial Handicap, a race that was first run thirty years before. It was shifted to Saturday in 1999 and has remained on this day since.

When Ascot was shut for refurbishment and redevelopment in 2005 and 2006 the race was moved temporarily to Lingfield. In order for it to be accommodated there the length was modified slightly and remained in place when it returned to Ascot in 2007. The current length was introduced in 2008 and has remained since then.

Four different horses have won the race twice, namely Tiutchev, Money’s Garden, Riverside Theatre and Cue Card. Money’s Garden, of course, was a successful jumper, having already added the likes of the Ascot Hurdle, Liverpool Hurdle and Future Champion Novices’ Chase to his list before winning this one. Cue Card, meanwhile, won this in 2013 before winning the likes of the Ryanair Chase and the King George VI Chase and then this race again in 2017.

It truly is a special race and one for the very best jumpers out there. It was won by Kauto Star in 2008, for example, which came in the middle of his two Gold Cup wins at the Cheltenham Festival and at the same time as one of his five King George VI Chase victories. It was also one of the last major wins during Silviniaco Conti’s career, coming after he’d already won the likes of the Denman Chase, King George and the Betfred Bowl. In other words, keep an eye out for horses that have already won well heading into this one for some clues.

As far as the jockeys are concerned, the likes of Ruby Walsh, Richard Dunwoody and Tony McCoy have all won it at least once, but it’s Barry Geraghty who tops the list of winners with three victories. The same is true for trainers, with Alan King, Nicky Henderson and Colin Tizzard all getting their name on the winner’s list more than once but Martin Pipe and Paul Nicholls lead the way with four wins apiece.

Handicap Hurdle

Class 3, 2m7½f

Run over two miles, seven furlongs and one hundred and eighteen yards, this Handicap Hurdle is run in association with local sports and social clubs in Ascot. A Class 3 qualifier, it is for horses aged four and over that boast a rating of between 0 and 125. The prize fund is just over £10,000 and eleven hurdles that the horses need to jump before hitting the final straight.

British EBF Mares' NH Flat Race

Class 4, 1m7½f

A flat race that is run under National Hunt rules, this event is a Class 4 qualifying race. Run in association with the British European Breeders’ Fund, it is limited to mares that are aged between four and six. There’s a little over £4,500 available in the way of prize money, with the race lasting for one mile, seven furlongs and one hundred and fifty-two yards.


About Ascot Chase Day

Race at Ascot Racecourse

Ascot will always be best known for its flat races, such is the link between the racecourse and meetings such as Royal Ascot and British Champions Day. Ascot is as intrinsically linked to flat racing as it is to the Royal Family, so it’s little wonder that the more causal horse racing fan might not even know that it boasts a number of jump meetings throughout the year.

On that front, Ascot Chase Day is seen as one of if not the most important jump race meeting on the Ascot calendar. The Ascot Chase itself sits at the centre of the day, with the Grade 1 race being an impressive focus.