March 2023

Celebration Chase

The Celebration Chase is a Grade 1 steeplechase run over 1 mile, 7 furlongs and 119 yards at Sandown Park in early April. Open to horses aged five years and upwards, the race was inaugurated, as the Championship Chase, in 2001, when it served as a substitute for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, following the abandonment of the Cheltenham Festival due to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. The inaugural running was won, fittingly, by reigning Champion Chaser Edredon Bleu.

Following the death of the Queen Mother in March, 2002, the race – albeit downgraded to a Class 2, weight-for-age conditions contest – was run as the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Celebration Chase and retained that title until 2005. At that stage, the Celebration Chase was promoted to Grade 2 status; it was promoted again, to Grade 1 status, in 2014.

The prolific Altior, trained by Nicky Henderson, won the Celebration Chase three years running, in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and is the most successful horse in the history of the race. Henderson has saddled five winners altogether, but Paul Nicholls is the leading trainer with seven winners, namely Cenkos (2002, 2004), Andreas (2008), Twist Magic (2009), Sanctuaire (2012) and Greaneteen (2021,2022).

The 2023 renewal of the Celebration Chase is scheduled for Saturday, April 29 and, as is often the case, the ante-post betting is likely to be dominated by horses towards the forefront of the market for the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Energumene, Shiskin and Ferny Hollow appear likely contenders at this still early stage, while the hat-trick seeking Greaneteen may attempt to improve Paul Nicholls’ a;ready impressive record in the race.