The RSA Chase is run with its current title for the ninth time this year, although the race is backed by one of Cheltenham’s longest-running sponsors.
The RSA Chase was known as the Royal & SunAlliance Chase up to 2008 and as the Royal SunAlliance Chase in 1997. Sun Alliance, which merged with Royal Insurance in 1996, previously backed the Sun Alliance Chase for 23 years and sponsored at Cheltenham for 26 years altogether.
From 1971–73, the Foxhunter Chase was titled the Sun Alliance & London Foxhunters.
Sun Alliance & London was the first company outside racing to embrace commercial sponsorship at The Festival. Only the tote precedes the insurance company. Before 1974, the race was titled the Broadway Novices’ Chase and the Totalisator Champion Novices’ Chase.
There was no race in 1947 (snow), and 2001 (foot and mouth).
The biggest field for the race was 30 in 1986 and the smallest eight in 1993. The current safety limit is 20.
MOST SUCCESSFUL OWNER
Dorothy Paget with three victories – Mountain Prince (1948), On View (1951) and Glenbeigh (1954).
MOST SUCCESSFUL TRAINER
Fulke Walwyn was the most successful with four wins – Mountain Prince (1948), On View (1951), Glenbeigh (1954) and Mandarin (1957).
Willie Mullins has the best record among current trainers in the contest, having celebrated three victories with Rule Supreme (2004), Florida Pearl (1998) and Cooldine (2009).
MOST SUCCESSFUL JOCKEY
Pat Taaffe (pictured in the header) was the most successful jockey with five wins – Coneyburrow (1953), Solfen (1960), Grallagh Cnoc (1961), Arkle (1963) and Proud Tarquin (1970).
Ruby Walsh and Barry Geraghty are the only current jockeys to have won the race more than once. Walsh scored on Denman (2007) and Cooldine (2009), with Geraghty taking the honours on Star De Mohaison (2006) and Bobs Worth (2012).
In 68 runnings since 1946 (some early races were divided), a total of 18 favourites (26 per cent) have prevailed. The biggest shocks were provided by 33/1 shots Canny Danny (1983) and Hussard Collonges (2002).
Arkle was the shortest-priced winner when scoring at 4/9 in 1963.
Five-year-olds Manicou (1950, Div 1), Arctic Gold (1950, Div 2) and Star De Mohaison (2006) are the youngest winners.
The overall breakdown by age is as follows:
- 5yo – 3 wins
- 6yo – 13 wins
- 7yo – 33 wins
- 8yo – 15 wins
- 9yo – 3 wins
- 11yo – 1 wins
The oldest winner was 11-year-old Birthlaw in 1946.
The fastest running of the race was won by Lord Noelie in 2000 at 6 mins 5.3s, beating the previous best of 6 mins 6.6s set by Miinnehoma in 1992.
IRELAND (16): Coneyburrow (1953); Great Eliza (1955); Solfen (1960); Grallagh Cnoc (1961); Arkle (1963); Arkloin (1965); Herring Gull (1968); Proud Tarquin (1970); Ten Up (1974); Tied Cottage (1976); Antarctic Bay (1985); Florida Pearl (1998); Rule Supreme (2004); Cooldine (2009); Weapon’s Amnesty (2010) and Bostons Angel (2011).
DID YOU KNOW?
Since 1959, seven horses have won both the RSA Chase and Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup. They are:
- 1959 Mandarin (Gold Cup 1962)
- 1963 Arkle (Gold Cup 1964–6)
- 1974 Ten Up (Gold Cup 1975)
- 1979 Master Smudge (Gold Cup 1980 on the disqualification of Tied Cottage)
- 1990 Garrison Savannah (Gold Cup 1991)
- 1999 Looks Like Trouble (Gold Cup 2000)
- 2007 Denman (Gold Cup 2008)
To this list might be added the name of Tied Cottage, winner of the RSA Chase in 1976 and the Gold Cup in 1980, before subsequent disqualification in the latter.
The West Awake is the only horse to have won both what is now the Neptune Investment Managment Novices’ Hurdle (previously sponsored by RSA) and the RSA Chase. He won the Hurdle in 1987 and the Chase in 1988.
The 2010 winner Weapon’s Amnesty became the first horse to win the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and RSA Chase, a feat repeated by Bobs Worth in 2011 and 2012.
Hollywood legend Gregory Peck owned the 1966 winner Different Class.