The RSA Chase is the second race run on Day Two of the Cheltenham Festival, otherwise known as Ladies’ Day.

Open to novice chasers aged five-years-old and above, this race helps contribute to the electric atmosphere of Ladies’ Day, with plenty to shout about as the horses charge their way towards to finishing post.

Race history

Originally known as the Broadway Novices’ Chase, this race is one of just a handful to ever have been split into more than one division. Between the race in 1948 and the third in 1950 there were actually six races in total across the two divisions.

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The event was first run in 1946 when Ted Vinall won on Birthlaw and there was no race in 1947 due to snow and frost. The race was cancelled once more in 2001, as was the entire Cheltenham Festival, due to the foot-and-mouth crisis that devastated Britain for a time.

The legendary racehorse Arkle won here when ridden by Pat Taaffe in 1963, and this Grade I novice chase has over the years turned out some prestigious National Hunt jumpers.

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Race information

The RSA Chase is named for the RSA Insurance Group, who have sponsored the race since 1974 under the names Sun Alliance, Royal & Sun Alliance and the current RSA Insurance Group.

Sponsorship first began in 1964 when backed by the Tote, with the name changing from the Broadway Novices’ Chase to the Totalisator Champion Novices’ Chase from 1964 until 1973.

It is run over the Old Course at Cheltenham with 19 fences over a race distance of 4,929 metres. Seen by many as a necessary precursor to the highly prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup, the RSA Chase showcases novice horses aged five and above. Several RSA winners have gone on to achieve the Gold, including Arkle.

Weights carried are 11st 2lb for five-year olds and 11st 4lb for older horses, with the obligatory 7lb allowance for mares and fillies. The total prize pot is £150,000 with the winning team taking £85,425 of that.

Race records

The leading jockey for the RSA Chase is undoubtedly Pat Taaffe, who aside from his win with Arkle in 1963 also rode to victory here in 1953 with Coneyburrow, in 1960 with Solfen, in 1961 with Grallagh Cnoc and in 1970 with Proud Tarquin.

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Leading trainers with four wins each are Fulke Walwyn and Cheltenham darling Willie Mullins. Walwyn’s winning entries were Mountain Prince, who won the Division 2 race in 1948, On View in 1951, Glenbeigh in 1954 and Mandarin in 1957.

Mullins first saw victory with Florida Pearl in 1998, followed by Rule Supreme in 2004, Cooldine in 2009 and the 2015 winner Don Poli.

Race statistics and trends

  • Fastest recorded race time: 6m 5.3s, Lord Noelie, 2000
  • Longest priced winners: Hussard Collonges and Canny Danny, both at 33/1
  • Since 2002, 11 races have been won by seven-year-old horses
  • Only four favourites have won in the last 15 races
  • 21 of the last 24 winning horses were in their first season as chasers

Seen as an important indicator of future successes, the RSA Chase is certainly one to keep your eye on, with all the excitement that makes Ladies’ Day at Cheltenham such a popular event in the racing calendar.