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2021 Ultima Handicap Chase Tips – Punters will be Happy if the favourite comes in

By Jon Vine
15 Mar 2021
  • We’ve published our guide to the 2021 Ultima Handicap Chase
  • This handicap is the third race on day one of the Cheltenham Festival
  • Happygolucky is our best bet 6/1
  • Pym is our second each-way bet at 20/1
Happygolucky has been backed into favouritism for the 2021 Ultima. (Getty)
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The first handicap at the Cheltenham Festival is the Ultima Handicap Chase. Staged over a testing trip of three miles and one furlong, the Ultima has been won by many excellent horses, with some even going on to taste success in huge races like the Gold Cup and the Grand National.

Let’s take a look through the current betting for the Ultima.

2021 Ultima Handicap Chase Odds

Escaria Ten6/1
Lieutenant Rocco8/1
Coko Beach10/1
One For The Team10/1

*Odds taken from bet365 on 3/3/21*

2021 Ultima Handicap Chase Trends

I’ve cast my eye through the last ten runnings of the Ultima Handicap Chase, and picked out three key recurring trends.

  • All of the last 10 winners were trained by British-based trainers
  • Nine of the last 10 winners had won over three miles or further
  • Eight of the last 10 winners had run at Cheltenham that season

2021 Ultima Handicap Chase Tips – Happygolucky

Happygolucky2021 Ultima Handicap Chase Best BetGET 6/1 HERE
New customers only. 18+ T&Cs and wagering requirements apply.

Four of the last eight renewals of the Ultima have been won by novices, and the money has started to come for several first-season chasers in recent days. 

Escaria Ten is a very classy sort, but who knows what’s going on with Gordon Elliott’s runners at the moment. Nick Williams sent out the winner of this in 2018, and he could throw One For The Team into the mix. Lieutenant Rocco has also been backed recently, having proven his stamina at Ffos Las. Lieutenant Rocco, though, wants very soft ground to be at his best, and I haven’t been that impressed with One For The Team’s jumping.

HAPPYGOLUCKY has been pushed to the head of the betting, and it’s easy to see why, as he has the ideal profile for the Ultima. Kim Bailey’s charge ran well to place in the Martin Pipe last season, and ran three times over fences earlier in the season, beating The Mighty Don and Hold The Note over this trip at Cheltenham’s Showcase Meeting.

David Bass’ mount thumped Paint The Dream on his chase debut, and he’s gone on to win a big handicap since. Happygolucky was then beaten at a very short price at Fakenham, but there was no shame in losing to Getaway Trump over a 21-furlong trip which always seems a little sharp. 

The Ultima has been kind on punters in recent years, with eight of the last ten winners returning a price of 11/1 or shorter. Kim Bailey is enjoyed a strong season, and a win for Happygolucky would be the perfect way to open his meeting.

Pym (right) smashed Imperial Aura here at Cheltenham last season. (Getty)

2021 Ultima Handicap Chase Tips – Pym

Pym E/W2021 Ultima Handicap Chase Each-Way OutsiderGET 20/1 HERE
New customers only. 18+ T&Cs and wagering requirements apply.

I really fancied PYM for this race 12 months ago, when he himself was a first-season chaser. Nicky Henderson instead opted to throw his charge into the Brown Advisory Chase, but Nico De Boinville's mount never got involved in that Grade One, and was pulled up at the midway stage.

The best performance of Pym’s career came here at Cheltenham last season, where he thrashed future Festival winner, Imperial Aura by eight lengths off level weights. Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old kicked off this season with a smart Listed victory over a 152-rated chaser in If The Cap Fits, before finishing fifth as the favourite in the Rehearsal Chase up at Newcastle.

Maybe the 20-day turnaround between those races can account for that limp display, or the fact that Pym was giving plenty of weight to the four horses ahead of him. Nicky Henderson has given his charge a good break since then and, if top-rated Cepage is confirmed in the race, then Pym will have a manageable weight of 11-7 to shoulder. 

There’s a chance he might not run on day one of the Cheltenham Festival, so make the most of bet365's Non-Runner No Bet stipulations. If Pym is confirmed, though, I fancy he’ll go off a lot shorter than 20/1.


In a recent stable tour, Nicky Henderson said he was half thinking of running Pym over hurdles before going on to the Grand National. The Ultima has been a good trial for the National in recent seasons and conditions next week will be perfect for Pym, so if Henderson does skip the race he'll have definitely missed a trick.



Happygolucky has moved to the head of the betting in recent days, and Kim Bailey's charge looks to be the strongest challenger. 6/1 isn't the worst price.

Of those at longer odds, Pym is the one who catches my eye, and he'll be my second selection at 20/1 (NRNB).

2021 Ultima Handicap Chase Tip 1: Happygolucky Straight Win @6/1 at bet365 - 15 Units
2021 Ultima Handicap Chase Tip 2: Pym Each-Way @20/1 at bet365 - 5 Units
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