history of the Betway queen mother champion steeple chase
Whilst Friday's Gold Cup is all about the stamina, The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase focuses purely on the speed with Europe's top two-mile chasers hoping to add their name to an illustrious roll of honour.
The Dan Moore trained Quita Que won an inaugural National Hunt two-mile Champion Chase in 1959 under Bunny Cox before Tom Dreaper, the leading trainer in the race and Pat Taaffe teamed up with Fortria to become the first multiple winners of the race in 1960 and 1961. Ever since then there have been many multiple winners of this two-mile chase; Drinny's Double achieving the same feat for trainer Bob Turnell and jockey Frank Nash in 1967 and 1968.
Fred Winter trained his one and only Champion Chase winner in 1971 when Paul Kelleway partnered Crisp to victory who two years later suffered an agonising defeat by Red Rum in the 1973 Grand National.
The Edward Courage trained Royal Relief became the first horse in the race's history to regain his title after winning under Bill Smith in 1972 and 1974. Skymas recorded back to back wins for trainer Brian Lusk and jockey Mouse Morris in 1976 and 1977 and became the oldest winner, at twelve, on the second of those occasions.
The Queen Mother, whose Game Spirit finished runner-up in the race in 1976 had been an unwavering supporter of National Hunt racing and in 1980, the race was renamed the Queen Mother Champion Chase in celebration of her 80th birthday. Up until her death, she was always on hand to give out the trophy each season.
The Robert Earnshaw ridden Badsworth Boy dominated the race in the early 1980s, winning three years in succession between 1983 and 1985 for the Dickinson family and he remains the most successful horse in the history of the race.
At the end of the 1980s there was two more back to back winners of the race. Pearlyman tasted glory for John Edwards in 1987 and 1988 and the David Elsworth trained Barnbrook Again followed suit in 1989 and 1990.
David Nicholson broke his duck in 1994 when Viking Flagship galloped to victory under Adrian Maguire and he didn't have to wait long for his second when the same horse followed up 12 months later in the hands of Charlie Sawn.
The Jessica Harrington trained Moscow Flyer stamped his authority on the race in 2003 before disappointing punters 12 months later when unseating Barry Geraghty. He returned in 2005 and duly made amends becoming the joint second oldest winner of the race.
Three years later saw the emergence of another superstar in the shape of Master Minded. Paul Nicholls gelding was untouchable in 2008 under Ruby Walsh when as a five-year-old he became the youngest winner of the race and was just as dominant when following up 12 months later.
In more recent seasons, Barry Geraghty has been a leading force. In 2010 he partnered the Colm Murphy trained Big Zeb to something of a surprise success before teaming up with Nicky Henderson in 2012 and 2013 with Finian's Rainbow and Sprinter Sacre respectively. That took his tally to five, making him joint leading jockey with Pat Taaffe.
Who can forget the almighty win from Altior in 2018, ridden by Nico de Boinville and trained by Nicky Henderson? In 2019, Altior returned and won the race again. Will Nicky Henderson trained Altior return in 2020 for a hat-trick?
Who will be crowned The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase winner at The Festival™ presented by Magners 2020? Book your tickets now for Day Two to find out and join us on Wednesday 11th March 2020.