May 25, 2018, 21:54

Guide to the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Wednesday’s Cheltenham Festival highlight

Guide to the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Wednesday’s Cheltenham Festival highlight

Three potential superstars will collide in Wednesday’s Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, where a mouthwatering race looks certain.

The late decision by Willie Mullins to add Douvan into the mix, rather than go for the Ryanair Chase on Thursday, means the possibility of a match between two talented young chasers gets additional lustre.

But could eight fences over two miles, at an almost certain fast pace, and throwing in the spectre of heavy ground mean there is a shock in store? Read on for our guide…

1 ALTIOR. Form: 111111-1
Jockey: Nico de Boinville. Trainer: Nicky Henderson

Unbeaten over fences, and that should really continue here, but there have to be some serious concerns that Altior was reported to be lame by his trainer only 48 hours before the race, especially given his previous battles with injury this season. He returned from a lengthy break with an impressive demolition of Politologue in the Game Spirit, but at the likely short odds, there are enough questions to mean a reluctant pass. Rating: 9/10

2 AR MAD. Form: 61111/4-P3
Jockey: Joshua Moore. Trainer: Gary Moore

One of a number of possible pace angles in the race, but has been soundly put in his place by Politologue on a couple of occasions this season and is not at all sure to be as effective going left-handed, something his trainer has consistently avoided in the past and admitted his concerns about over the weekend. Rating: 2/10

3 CHARBEL. Form: 2F3-44
Jockey: David Bass. Trainer: Kim Bailey

Another who would like to front-run here, but might not get the chance, and another who finished far enough behind Politologue in the Tingle Creek to make it tough for him here. But he would have given Altior a decent race in the Arkle 12 months ago, but for falling two out, and might not be the worst of the big-priced outsiders if the ground is not completely desperate. Rating: 5/10

4 DOUVAN. Form: 11117-
Jockey: Ruby Walsh. Trainer: Willie Mullins

Finished lame when seventh in this race behind Special Tiara last year, a race in which he suffered defeat for only the second time in his career. That was the last time we saw Douvan on the racecourse, and it was only a late call for him to take on this race, rather than step up in trip for the Ryanair. The ground has come in his favour but is he the same horse he was before last year’s Champion? Rating: 6/10

5 GOD’S OWN. Form: 1233553-63
Jockey: Paddy Brennan. Trainer: Tom George

Second, fourth and fifth at the last three Cheltenham Festivals, the last two of those coming in the Champion Chase, but he would appear to prefer better ground and this might be the toughest of the four trips he’s had to Prestbury Park. Rating: 2/10

6 MIN. Form: 11-121
Jockey: Paul Townend. Trainer: Willie Mullins

Well-beaten second behind Altior in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2016, he has since won four of his five chase starts. Got revenge on Simply Ned at Leopardstown last month, after being disqualified following a win over the same rival just after Christmas. This is undoubtedly his toughest test over fences so far, but there was an awful lot to like about his last victory and he won’t have any concerns about sitting off the pace. Rating: 10/10

7 ORDINARY WORLD. Form: 012232-234
Jockey: Davy Russell. Trainer: Henry De Bromhead

Beaten out of sight by Min on his last two runs, and although his form appears consistent, he’s only been picking up place money since his last win almost 18 months ago. Rating: 2/10

8 POLITOLOGUE. Form: 11214F-1112
Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies. Trainer: Paul Nicholls

Has picked up the pieces in Altior’s absence this season, winning the Tingle Creek and Desert Orchid Chases, the latter in impressive fashion but aided by Special Tiara’s fall. His chance looks to be more place-based after being readily turned over by Altior at Newbury last month and might have already won his big race. Rating: 5/10

9 SPECIAL TIARA. Form: 631512-3F3
Jockey: Noel Fehily. Trainer: Henry De Bromhead

Been there, seen that, won the trophy. Special Tiara has run in the last four editions of the Champion Chase and won it last year, leading for most of the race and holding off Fox Norton. Fell just after Christmas in the race Politologue went on to win, but was still travelling well, and went way too fast for his own good at Leopardstown last time out – ground would have to be a huge concern. Rating: 4/10

VERDICT:

Despite the relatively small field, and there being a few outsiders to cast aside, this is a fiendish puzzle to solve because there are so many question marks. Is Altior fit? Is Douvan ready to return? How quickly will they go? The one runner who appears not to have those questions to answer, and is in good form, is MIN. He might have been Willie Mullins’ first choice but for the decision to run Douvan as well, but that wouldn’t obviously appear to affect Min’s chance at all. A fully-fit Douvan and Altior battling one another would be something to behold, but there have to be questions whether either is going to be 100 per cent? Politologue could reach the frame based on his Tingle Creek win, with the ground not ideal for big-priced hope Charbel.

1 MIN
2 Altior
3 Politologue

Sourse: skysports.com

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