The Mildmay of Flete Challenge Cup is a Grade 3 race held on Day Three of the Cheltenham Festival (known as St. Patrick’s Day). It is a handicap National Hunt chase, with chasers desperate to be the first ones to reach the post and secure a victory.
It has had many names in the interim, including the Racing Post Plate from 2006 to 2008, the Freddie Williams Festival Plate in 2009, and the Byrne Group Plate from 2010 to 2014.
The inaugural race took place in 1951 but a water-logged course meant that in that year it was run in April rather than the traditional month of March.
It is run over Cheltenham’s New Course with a distance of 4,225 metres (2 miles 5 furlongs) and with 17 fences. It takes place directly after the feature race of Day Three, the Ladbrokes World Hurdle. The purse for the race is £100,000 with prize money for the winner standing at £51,255. Entry to the race is restricted to horses aged five years and above.
Leading jockey is Fred Winter with three wins under his belt, including the very first which was declared a dead heat between his horse Slender and Canford (ridden by Glen Kelly). Winter’s other two wins came in 1953 and 1958 on Sy Oui and Caesar’s Helm.
Trainers have had more luck at repeat wins here, with three having each entered four winners. Bobby Renton dominated in the early years of the race, with winners in 1954, 1958, 1959 and 1968 (Tudor Line, Caesar’s Helm, Siracusa and Merry Court).
In more recent years Nicky Henderson and Martin Pipe have equalled this number.
Henderson saw victory with The Tsarevich for both his wins, plus with Liberthine in 2005 and Non So in 2006. Pipe trained Terao, Majadou, Dark Stranger, and Blowing Wind who won in 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2002.
Betting and odds
The Mildmay of Flete Challenge Cup has a reputation for turning out long-odds winners more often than favourites and as such many bettors fancy their chances of winning big on this race.
Since 2002 not only has Salut Flo been the only favourite to win, he has also been the only horse to win with single-priced odds. 2015’s victor was Darna at 33/1, in 2013 it was Carrickboy at 50/1 and in 2008 Mr McGoldrick romped home at 66/1.
For bettors looking to try and cash in towards the end of day three, a flutter on a long shot in the Mildmay of Flete Challenge Cup could well be the way to go.