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Native River Chase: A Brief History


28 September 2021

Ahead of this year's Unibet Jump Season Opener, we're taking a look back at some of the past winners of the Native River Handicap Chase. Run over three miles, it was for a long time known as the Mercedes-Benz Chase, after the company that sponsored it from 1975-2000.   

From the word go it has been an important early season test for established staying chasers.  Good Prospect, bought by the Prince of Wales to ride in races himself, won it in 1981, although Charles was not the jockey on that occasion.   

Broadheath won the race three times in a row in the 1980s, ridden by Paul Nicholls on the latter occasion and when finishing third in the following two years. Broadheath also won the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury in 1986. 

There have been plenty of pointers to future National winners. In 1989 the New Zealand-bred Seagram galloped to victory, eighteen months before his win in the Aintree Grand National. 

2002’s winner Run For Paddy was destined to cause a 33/1 upset in the Scottish National four years later.  

The victor in 2017, Ballyoptic, went on to be beaten by a nose in the Scottish National.   

In 2019 the race was named in honour of the Gold Cup and Welsh National winner Native River.  

Last year’s winner Secret Investor was trained by Paul Nicholls, maintaining his 35-year connection with the race.  The horse improved to beat his stablemate, the dual King George winner Clan Des Obeaux, in Newbury’s Denman Chase, putting him on the fringe of Gold Cup class. 

Prize money for this year’s race, sponsored by Native River’s owners Brocade Racing, has been increased to £50,000. 

Chepstow Racecourse

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