The Melling Chase is a Grade 1 steeplechase run over 2 miles and 4 furlongs on the Mildmay Course at Aintree in early April. Open to horses aged five years and upwards, the race is currently sponsored by leading American stockbroker Marsh & McLennan and, hence, known as the Marsh Chase for sponsorship purposes. The officially registered title, though, comes from the nearby village of Melling in Sefton, Merseyside. The Melling Chase is currently scheduled as the fourth race on the second day of the three-day Grand National Festival, a.k.a. Ladies’ Day.

The Melling Chase was inaugurated, as a Grade 1 contest, in 1991 and has maintained that status throughout its lifetime. Indeed, the field often features horses that contested the Queen Mother Champion Chase or the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and the roll of honour includes the likes of Viking Flagship, Moscow Flyer, Master Minded, Sprinter Sacre and Politologue. Paul Nicholls, trainer of Master Minded and Politologue, and Nicky Henderson, trainer of Sprinter Sacre, have both saddled three winners apiece and are, jointly, the leading handlers in the history of the Melling Chase.

A total of half a dozen horses have won the Melling Chase twice, but the most recent to them, Fakir D’oudairies, who won back-to-back renewals in 2021 and 2022, may be in a position to attempt an unprecedented hat-trick in 2023. Joseph O’Brien’s Kapgarde gelding will still only be an 8-year-old by the time 3.25pm on Friday, April 8 rolls around, so it will be interesting to see how his season develops. Of course, top-class two-mile steeplechasers, such as Energumene, Shiskin and Edwardstone, are always possibilities while, from the ‘intermediate’ division, leading Ryanair Chase fancies Allaho and Galopin Des Champs are other possibilities.