As the name suggests, the Ascot Chase is a Grade 1 steeplechase run over 2 miles, 5 furlongs and 8 yards at Ascot in February. Inaugurated, as the Comet Chase, in 1995, the race was orginally run over a distance of 2 miles, 3 furlongs and 110 yards, but has been lengthened, shortened and lengthened again at various points in its history. The 2005 and 2006 renewals – staged at Lingfield Park during the multi-million pound redevelopment of Ascot – were contested over 2 miles, 4 furlongs and 110 yards. Back at Ascot, on the partially reconstructed National Hunt course, in 2007, the distance was shortened to 2 miles 2 furlongs and 175 yards before being lengthened to the current yardage the following year.
Worth £150,000 in guaranteed in prize money, the Ascot Chase has the distinction of being the most valuable steeplechase run at Ascot. It is also the third, and final, National Hunt race of the season at the Berkshire course and, more importantly, the final Grade 1 race, of any description, before the Cheltenham Festival. The intermediate distance is ideally suited to top-level horses who lack the speed for two miles and the stamina for three. That said, the indomitable Kauto Star – a Grade 1 winner at two miles, three miles and three-and-a-quarter miles – demonstrated his versatility with an easy 8-length victory in 2008.
A total of four horses – Tiutchev (2001, 2003), Monet’s Garden (2007, 2010), Riverside Theatre (2011, 2012) and Cue Card (2013, 2017) – have won the Ascot Chase. Paul Nicholls, trainer of Kauto Star, also saddled Rockforce (2000) Silviniaco Conti (2016) and Cyrname (2019) to victory and, alongside Martin Pipe, is jointly the most successful trainer in the history of the race.
The 2023 renewal of the Ascot Chase is scheduled for Saturday, February 18. Ante-post prices are not yet available, but favourites have an excellent recent record, winning six of the last 10 renewals.