Staged at Newbury racecourse the Betfair-sponsored Denman Chase is a Grade Two race that is run in February each year.
First run in 2000, the Denman Chase is always a hotly-contested race that is run over a trip of 3 miles, and over the years has provided plenty of clues ahead of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Four horses have won this race before going onto land the Cheltenham Gold Cup that same season – Kauto Star (2007), Denman (2008), Coneygree (2015) & Native River (2018).
In 2017 – Native River won the Denman Chase before running third in the Gold Cup, but in 2018 he went one better after landing both the Denman Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The race was upgraded to Listed status in 2002 and then promoted further in 2003 to a Grade Two – which it remains at today.
The contest was originally sponsored by the Aon Group, but in 2012 leading betting exchange – Betfair – took over the sponsorship mantle, and in the process also renamed the race the ‘Denman Chase’ in honour of the 2008 winner.
Since 2000 leading National Hunt trainer – Paul Nicholls – has won the race 9 times, while if you like your trends it’s worth noting that 7 of the last 13 winners of the Denman Chase were aged 7 years-old – backed up again in 2019 with the Paul Nicholls-trained Clan Des Obeaux winning as a 7 year-old.
However, it was the turn of a returning champion in Native River in 2020 – this Colin Tizzard chaser and former Gold Cup winner, landed his third Denman Chase under jockey Jonjo O’Neill Jnr.
Here at TQ, we look back at recent winners of the race and highlights the key stats ahead of the 2021 renewal – this year staged on Sunday 21st February.
Recent Denman Chase Winners
2020 – Native River (2/5 fav)
2019 - Clan Des Obeaux (2/5 fav)
2018 - Native River (8/11 fav)
2017 – Native River (11/10)
2016 - Houblon des Obeaux (3/1)
2015 – Coneygree (15/8 fav)
2014 – Harry Topper (7/2)
2013 – Silviniaco Conti (8/11 fav)
2012 – Long Run (4/7 fav)
2011 – Noland (13/2)
2010 – Tricky Trickster (8/1)
2009 – Madison du Berlais (12/1)
2008 – Denman (1/4 fav)
2007 – Kauto Star (2/9 fav)
Denman Chase Trends
15/17 – Had won at least 4 times over fences (UK) before
15/17 – Had won over at least 3m (fences) before
14/17 – Rated 150+
13/17 – Placed favourites
13/17 – Ran within the last 6 weeks
13/17 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
12/17 – Aged 8 or younger
11/17 – Winners that went onto race in that season’s Gold Cup (4 winners)
11/17 – Had won over fences at Newbury before
10/17 – Raced at either Cheltenham (4) or Kempton (4) last time out
8/17 – Won last time out
8/17 – Winning favourites
7/17 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
7/17 – Irish bred
6/17 – French bred
5/17 – Winning distance – ¾ length or less
4/17 – Winners that went onto win the Gold Cup (Coneygree, Denman, Kauto Star & Native River)
3/17 – Returned a double-figure price
3/17 – Ridden by Richard Johnson
3/17 – Trained by Colin Tizzard
2/17 – Won by the Pipe stable
7 of the last 14 winners were aged 7 years-old
The average SP in the last 14 runnings is 3/1
TQ VERDICT: Paul Nicholl has a good record in this race and he’s going to have another big chance with his multiple King George winner, CLAN DES OBEAUX. This 9 year-old is the joint top-rated in the field (169) and is a former course winner – he’s clearly got a big chance. However, those against him will note he’s also not won now since landing the 2019 King George and despite being lightly-raced since (3 runs), he was put in his place by Frodon at Kempton over Christmas. But with his main rival, in term of the ratings – Lostintranslation – having a bit to prove, then Clan Des Obeaux gets the call by default really. He’s a course winner here too and heavy/soft ground is fine. Nicholls has already said he’s unlikely to be seen at Cheltenham again, so he can take this before heading to Aintree in April. The other joint top-rated is the Tizzard runner – Lostintranslation – and on his best form he’d, of course, be a player – let’s not forget, he was a close third in the Gold Cup last March. However, he’s rather lost his way since with poor runs in the King George and Betfair Chase – a recent wind op might do the trick, but I’d rather see it on the track first. Cepage, The Conditional and Secret Investor are all good horses in their own right too, but in this graded race have a bit to find at the weights. So, the other of interest is KALASHNIKOV (e/w). Yes, he’s rated 10lbs off the likes of Clan and Lost, but gets a handy 6lbs from that pair. He ran well over 2m4f at Cheltenham (2nd) last time out but looks the sort that is worth a try over 3 (fences), plus is also a proven course winner here at Newbury. If all 8 run, then he could be the e/w value in the race.