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Can Ultragold retain his Topham Chase title?

Ultragold

Ultragold is currently on course to make it a hat-trick of consecutive wins in the Topham Chase, having raced to victory in both the 2017 and 2018 races. The Colin Tizzard-trained horse always seems to struggle for form after winning the race, and once again the question of his form heading into the Topham Chase will be raised.

In Betfair Topham Chase betting, Ultragold is 14/1 to retain his title, a little way behind the current favourite – Janika – who is priced at 10/1. His victory last year has no doubt helped his odds, but if his form is anything to go by, he’s unlikely to make complete the hat-trick.

The going

In racing, the going can be the difference between the favourite winning and the long shot outsider upsetting the odds. When Ultragold won the 2018 Topham Chase, the going was heavy, while his 2017 Topham Chase victory saw the going as good. He can win on a variety of different ground conditions, which makes him both versatile and unpredictable, as he’s also lost in similar conditions.

Topham Chase 2018

Much like in this year’s race, Ultragold ran at odds of 14/1 when he secured victory in the Topham Chase last year. His victory over Shanahan’s Turn – who finished second – was three and three-quarter lengths. Polidam ran as the favourite in last year’s race, at a price of 9/1, but could only manage a ninth-place finish, 37 and three-quarter lengths behind Ultragold.

His 2017 victory was even more of a surprise, given he was priced at 50/1 before the start. He finished just one length clear of Katnap, but he was always among the leaders and powered on home to victory.

Form since victory

In his first race since victory at Aintree, Ultragold could only manage a fourth-place finish in the Randox Health Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham on 27th October. He finished 11 lengths behind third-place Nativegetaway and 26 and a quarter lengths behind the winner, Dinons. Ultragold had set off as the second favourite for the race and led until after the seventh, suggesting that his stamina might be the problem.

He returned to Aintree in the Becher Handicap Chase on the 8th December and finished a respectable third in a field of 18. He finished six lengths behind the winner, Walk In The Mill, and led after the first. He was among the leaders throughout, and was showing promise in the run-in, but couldn’t quite improve on third.

The McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick on 12th January 2019 provided Ultragold with the opportunity to start 2019 in style. He was priced at 25/1 prior to the start of the race, but put in a good performance, finishing in fifth place in a field of 12. While this may not seem impressive, given there was only one horse with odds longer than his, it shows he can upset the odds at any time.

The final race before his title defence came in the form of the Glenfarclas Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and while his 14/1 price was miles behind 5/4 favourite Tiger Roll’s, his performance was disappointing. He spent much of the race in the middle of the pack, but lost his place at the 22nd and pulled up before the 26th.

Conclusion

Although Ultragold hasn’t had much luck since his victory last year, you shouldn’t write him off. He always seems to find a way of overcoming the odds for this race and for the third time in a row, he hasn’t been named as the favourite, which might work in his favour. Regardless of his form, expect a strong showing on Friday 5th April.

 

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