Ascot Clarence House Chase Day Betting Tips - 18th January 2020

The jumps season certainly finds its stride during the festive period and there's no sign of the pace slacking off throughout January. Towards the middle of the month Haydock has its own attractions – with a couple of Cheltenham Trials being of particular interest – but one the best cards as we continue into the new year comes here at Ascot.

The day's central focus is the Clarence House Chase, a race famously won three times in a row by one of the real stars of recent times in Willie Mullins' Un De Sceaux. There’s plenty more on offer besides the feature though with a valuable handicap chase and mares' hurdle amongst others.

 

About Clarence House Chase Day

Ascot is home to some of the world’s most famous flat races, but it also hosts a good chunk of jump racing events and Clarence House Chase Day is the meeting that is used to kick-start the racecourse’s year of top-class racing, hosted as it is in January each year.

The standout race is, as you might well have guessed from the day’s name, the Clarence House Chase, which is a Grade 1 offering that has seen some of the sport’s best jumpers end the day as winners. It comes as part of a seven race program that also includes the Grade 3 Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle, so there’s plenty of racing away from the main event to keep you interested.

Clarence House Chase Day Race List

Let’s start by having a look at the full list of races. Obviously both the order of the races and even the ones that are run are always subject to change, but here’s how the race card looked in 2020 to give you an idea of what to expect:

RacePrize MoneyAgesObstacles
Clarence House Chase Day
Ascot Juvenile Hurdle £12,200 4 Years Old 8 hurdles
Amateur Riders Handicap Chase £16,800 5 Years Old + 20 fences
bet365 Mares' Hurdle (The Warfield) £50,000 4 Year Old + Mares 11 hurdles
Holloway's Handicap Hurdle £50,000 4 Years Old + 10 hurdles
bet365 Handicap Chase £75,000 5 Years Old + 17 fences
Clarence House Chase £150,000 5 Years Old + 13 fences
British EBF Novices' Hurdle £10,800 4-7 Years Old 10 hurdles

The Key Races in Detail

The day offers a host of exciting races, but three of them stand out more than the rest. There’s one of each of Grade 3, Grade 2 and Grade 1 rated races, so here’s a look at them each in order of importance as seen by the British Horseracing Authority.

Clarence House Chase

First run in 1989, the Clarence House Chase was supposed to be inaugurated in 1987 but wasn’t because of a bad frost that had settled on the Ascot course that year. It was then supposed to get its debut the following year but organisers must have wondered if it is was cursed when a heavy fog descended on the racecourse.

When the race was created it was a handicap offering that was run over two miles. When Ascot was closed in 2005 and 2006 because the course was being renovated the race was run firstly at Cheltenham Racecourse and then at Sandown Park, with no race in 2007. That was the year that it earned its Grade 1 status, however, as well as being extended by a furlong and no longer being run as a handicap.

As a result, the modern race is run over two miles and one hundred and sixty-seven yards, with thirteen fences for the horses to jump during the course of it. It’s open to horses aged five and over.

The race is registered as the Clarence House Chase but was sponsored by the bookmaker Victor Chandler, now known as BetVictor, from its inauguration until 2013 and was known by a sponsored title. It went back to being known by its registered title from 2014, at which point the French food services company Sodexo took over sponsorship duties. Various sponsors have taken on the role since, with the betting exchange Matchbook being the company that had the honour in 2019.

This is a good race to watch if you’re looking for some ideas about the horses that might do well in the Queen Mother Champion Chase during the Cheltenham Festival. Viking Flagship, Master Minded and Altior are all examples of horses that have won both events in the same season, so if a horse looks as though it’s coped ok with this then it might be worth making a note of and tracking between the race and the Festival in March.

In terms of previous winners, Master Minded is one horse that has won it twice, though that wasn’t good enough to take the title of ‘best horse’ away from Un de Sceaux who won it three times consecutively between 2016 and 2018. Equally, none of Tony McCoy or Richard Dunwoody’s two wins as jockey nor Mick Fitzgerald’s three wins are enough to put them in the record books thanks to Ruby Walsh’s four wins between 2009 and 2017.

The likes of David Nicholson, Jimmy FitzGerald and Willie Mullins have all been the trainer of the winner of this race more than once, but Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson are way out in front with five wins apiece. Henderson’s achievement might just pip Nicholls’ too, considering he did it with five different horses whereas Nicholls saw two of his wins come from Master Minded.

Mares' Hurdle (The Warfield)

There aren’t many races limited to fillies and mares quite as exciting as the Grade 2 Mares’ Hurdle. It is run right-handed over two miles, seven furlongs and one hundred and eighteen yards and during its running there are eleven hurdles that the horses will need to get over.

The race was created in 2008 and has enjoyed a number of different names since then thanks to sponsorship. It has been known as the Oilexco Mares' Only Hurdle, the Warfield Mares’ Hurdle and the 1942 Was A Vintage Year Mares’ Hurdle over the years, with the last of those being the most intriguing.

At the time of writing no horse has won it twice, though Ruby Wash has done as a jockey and Noel Fehily has won it three times. Two of those wins came on horses trained by Harry Fry, making him the race’s most successful trainer based on past results.

If you’re interested to know what the best horses do next then you might be intrigued to know that Magic of Light won this race in 2019 before going on to come second in that season’s Grand National. Might this race give an indication of the next mare to win the Aintree race, given it’s such a rare occurrence?

Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle

The final race worth drawing your attention to is the Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle, which was also inaugurated in 2008. Run over two miles, three furlongs and fifty-eight yards, the race is open to horses aged four and up. There are ten hurdles that the competitors will need to get over before they reach the final stretch.

The first two races were won by Lough Derg, though none of the others since have been won by the same horse consecutively. Tom Scudamore was on the back of Lough Derg, given him the jump on other jockeys in terms of success, whilst David Pipe was the winning trainer on both occasions. Pipe was also the trainer of Mamlook, who won the race in 2010.