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The Queen Mother Champion Chase is yet another Grade 1 race that takes place during the Cheltenham festival. The distance is 2 miles and over that distance there are 12 fences to be jumped. The race is open to horses 5 years and older. This is the major race on day 2 of the festival and previous winners have included Sprinter Sacre, Special Tiara Dodging Bullets and Altior (twice). With a first prize of over £225,000, it represents a real coup for any winner.
The Champion Chase looks like it will be the race of The Festival this year, with a 3 way battle at the top of the betting. The reigning champion and Festival Stalwart, bounced back with a win at Newbury in February, then we have the challengers in Defi Du Seuil and Chacun Pour Sois. Interestingly Willy Mullens has never won this race and Nicky Henderson is the most successful trainer with 5 wins from 11, a 45% win rate. Training Sprinter Sacre and Altior will do that to your stats. Favourites are 8/12 in the Champion Chase and top 2 in the betting are 8/12. This year, with the strength of top 3 in the betting I certainly wouldn’t be looking any further down the card. It’s not a race I’ll be betting big in as I could see any of these 3 winning the race, it just depends who turns up on the day.
Defi Du Seuil
We start with the new kid on the block in Defi Du Seuil. There really isn’t much not to like about Defi and his performances this season, winning all 3 of his races. He also has Cheltenham form winning the JLT Novices Chase at The Festival last year and another win at the course in November. Gerraty has really found a rhythm with him now, patiently stalking the front runners before providing a charge down the home straight. He’s joint favourite with Altior and I would probably put him as a slight favourite over him. Defi De Seuil was beaten by Chacun Pour Soi last season, but that was after Defi had had a much harder campaign and Chacun was on home soil. You wouldn’t be surprised if Defi reversed that form at Cheltenham, but equally you wouldn’t be surprised if Defi was just outpaced once again. I know that it’s not a convincing argument either way, but it’s so close this year that it’s virtually impossible to split these horses.
- Matchbook Clarence House Chase - 18th Jan Watch
- Betfair Tingle Creek Chase - 7th Dec Watch
- Shloer Chase (Registered As The Cheltenham Chase) - 17th Nov Watch
Altior is a horse that has won me a fair amount of money at The Festival over the last few years. I’ve backed him at short prices in the previous 2 Champion Chases as I just couldn’t see him getting beat. One of those races was at 1-4 such was my confidence in him. He runs his races in predictable fashion, hits a flat spot before the home straight, you think he’s definitely beaten, Nico shakes him up, gives him a flick of the whip and puts the burners on unlike any other horse I’ve seen. If you’ve seen Altior race at Cheltenham before you’d think that the home straight was downhill, not up.
Nostalgia aside, this season hasn’t gone completely to plan. He was stepped up in trip to 2m 5f, where he was comprehensively beaten by Cyrname and was then diagnosed with an abscess on his liver. He’s taken some time out, but then came back to win at Newbury on 8th Feb in a 2 mile chase in typical Altior fashion, with the burners used to great effect once again. Altior is another one of those horses that always does just about enough to win his races. You won’t see him winning by 20 lengths.
He’s priced at around 2-1 for The Champion Chase and I wouldn’t put anyone off backing him, especially if you place with a money back if 2nd offer. This will undoubtedly be his hardest race for a number of years and at 10 years old, I just wonder if he’ll have enough. My head says no, but my heart says yes. I do have a small antepost bet on him already at 3-1 NRNB and that may well be enough for me in this race.
- Win Bigger On The Betfair Exchange Chase (Grade 2) (Registered As The Game Spirit Chase) - 8th Feb Watch
- Christy 1965 Chase - 23rd Nov Watch
Chacun Pour Soi
At 8 years old Chacun Pour Soi isn’t really a young challenger anymore, but since his 1089 day break back in Dec 2016, he’s looked like a really decent horse. He beat Defi Du Seuil last year quite comfortably by 4 ½ lengths, but that was over in Ireland and Defi had had a much tougher season by that point. His victory over Min in The Dublin Chase was pretty convincing, even if he was paddling a bit at the end. That race was run at a pretty frantic pace, so you can understand why. He’s never run at Cheltenham before and Mullens has never won this race and that’s probably why he’s a bigger price than the other 2 horses at 5-2. You just wonder if he’d have enough pace up the hill against Defi and Altior if all 3 were fighting it out at the finish.
- Ladbrokes Dublin Chase - 1st Feb Watch
- Paddy´s Rewards Club ´Loyalty´s Dead, Live For Rewards´ Chase - 27th Dec Watch
- 12 of the last 13 winners were priced 10/1 or less
- 15 of the previous 17 winners had run over fences at Cheltenham before
- 13 from the last 17 winners won their last race
- 10 of the last 17 winners won by 5 lengths or more
- 7 of the last 17 winners were favourites
- Nicky Henderson has trained 5 of the last 8 winners