Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1)
Ar Mad15:30 Cheltenham
Champion Chase Betting Tips
The Grade One Queen Mother Champion Chase is the biggest 2 mile chase every year, run on Day 2 (Wednesday 15th March) of Cheltenham Festival.
Make sure to check out all our other Cheltenham Festival betting tips
The Champion Chase betting trends are as follows:
- 9 of the last 10 winners had between 7 and 13 career chasing starts.
- 9 of the last 10 winners had either 2 or 3 seasonal runs.
- 10 of the previous 10 winners had RacingPost Ratings of 165 or higher on their last start before Cheltenham Festival.
- 9 of the last 10 winners placed in their last completed Graded race before the Champion Chase.
- 8 of the last 10 winners had previously at least placed at Cheltenham – 6 of the 8 had already won at Cheltenham.
- The winners odds have varied; 2 odds on winners, 2 double figure winners (10/1 & 10/1) and 6 winners from 1/1 to 5/1.
Paul Nicholls has won the Champion Chase three times in the last 10 years, twice with Master Minded (2008, 2009) and again in 2015 with Dodging Bullets. Nicky Henderson is the other multiple winner, with Finian’s Rainbow (2012) and Sprinter Sacre twice (2013 & 2016). Festival stalwart Barry Geraghty has ridden 3 winners of the previous ten, twice for Nicky Henderson and once for C A Murphy. Ruby Walsh rode both of Paul Nicholls’ Master Minded victories and will likely ride favourite Douvan this year who is likely to go off a ridiculously short price for a trainer who has never won the race in Willie Mullins.
Trends Analysis: No big surprises in the trends, with both experience and class being strong factors in determining winners. Don’t rule out horses who haven’t already won around Cheltenham, but it may be best to downgrade horses who struggled last time out given their poor record. Trial races to bare in mind are the Tingle Creek (won by Un De Sceaux) and Arkle Chase (Douvan), the Desert Orchid Chase (Sprinter Sacre) and the Tied Cottage Chase.
The premier 2 mile chase of the year, the Queen Mother Champion Chase is the pinnacle of the division and as such it has been won in the past by the very best, with Sprinter Sacre recapturing his crown in one of the highlights of last season.
The hot favourite at the time of writing and likely to stay there barring accidents, the imperious Douvan bids to claim his first championship race. Winner of all his starts to date in the UK & Ireland, we are starting to run out of superlatives to describe this magnificent horse. He eased to victory in the Supreme Novices in 2015, before coming back a year later to dismiss the Arkle field with complete contempt, barely needing to be shaken up to crush his opponents. Arguably, this will be his hardest test yet, but in the same vein arguably we haven’t seen the best of him yet, and who knows what he will find this year if Ruby Walsh gets serious on him.
Coming out of the woodwork as a contender for the race when winning the Shloer Chase with ease here back in November, Fox Norton is likely to be even better than he has shown so far. Taking the route that Sprinter Sacre did last year, he won in similar style to last year’s winner, powering clear in the closing stages to win by a growing 9 lengths. Whether he can get close to Douvan is a question we could go over for hours and hours with different answers, but he is likely to throw down a stern test and has to be respected for Colin Tizzard.
Second in last year’s renewal with no answer to Sprinter Sacre, Un De Sceaux returned this season with a very game performance to win the Tingle Creek, responding well to Ruby Walsh to win by 1 length from Sire De Grugy in second. He’ll need softer ground to show his true running which may be hard to come by in March, but he does have to be respected as his Arkle win in 2015 has still not been forgotten about. Whether he will oppose Douvan is another question to answer, but this seems his likeliest target and needs close attention is his build up races for an indication as to where he will be heading.
All heart and the horse of a lifetime for the Preston Family & Friends, the familiar Sire De Grugy will be bidding to reclaim the crown which he won in 2014 in brilliant style. He was by no means disgraced when returning this season, finishing a length 2nd to Un De Sceaux in the Tingle Creek, but unseated Jamie Moore at the second fence in the Desert Orchid chase which wasn’t part of the script. Now and 11 year old, he is vulnerable to younger legs and has most likely seen the best of his days, but he does still perform admirably at Grade 1 level and could sneak a place in this year if at his best.
The Irish Champion Chase winner and Melling Chase hero of 2016, God’s Own has been a good servant for the Crossed Fingers Partnership and hasn’t been disgraced this season, finishing second in a Grade 2 on his return at Aintree. His subsequent 3rd in the Grade 2 Stella Artois 1965 Chase was however disappointing and although 3rd in the Tingle Creek, less than two lengths behind Un De Sceaux, it’s hard to see him having any more than place prospects in this years running.
In actuality Special Tiara’s narrow victory in the Desert Orchid in December was disappointing, only just managing to fend off Sir Valentino who arguably would have beaten his rival without a blunder at the second last. A staple of the 2 mile division, he continues to pop up with good performances and wasn’t disgraced when a nose 3rd in this race last season. He does however have 18 lengths to find with Fox Norton on the Shloer Chase running and that is unlikely to be overturned in the Champion Chase.
The bold jumping, front running Ar Mad is also certainly worth a mention. Winner of the 2015 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase and the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase, he looked to be heading to the Arkle before heartbreak struck and he was injured on the lead up to the 2016 Festival. His 4th in this years Tingle Creek is better than the bare result suggests, making two shuddering errors down the back straight which scuppered his momentum. Once regaining his stride he charged home, finishing 4 lengths off the winner after being 8 lengths or more away at the pond fence, which was eye catching. He’d certainly be a big danger if going for the race and would force these to jump with pinpoint precision, so it’ll be interesting to note where Gary Moore sends him next.
The only back to back winner in recent years was the Paul Nichols trained Master Minded, who rounded off the noughties with wins at 3/1 and as the odds on favourite in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
Barry Geraghty rode the relatively unfancied 10/1 shot Big Zeb to victory in 2010, leading practically the whole way on good ground, before moving away from the field to claim a six length victory. He was beaten into second the following year by another 10/1 shot Sizing Europe. Andrew Lynch drew his mount level with the leaders going over the seventh, was driven out before the second to last and stayed on strongly to secure a first Queen Mother for his trainer Henry De Bromhead.
The 2012 and 2013 races were both won by the Barry Geraghty/Nicky Henderson combination. Finian’s Rainbow was the first in this big race double; sent off at 4/1 , the nine year old tracked the leaders throughout, battled for the lead going over the last and stayed on strong when all out over the final 100 yards, eventually edging out the defending champion to claim a dramatic victory. The following year’s instalment was much less competitive, as Sprinter Sacre, at the height of his prestigious powers, romped to a 19 length victory as the odds on favourite. No-one could touch him that day as he pulled away from the field just before the second to last, looking at his smooth, dominant best throughout.
With Sprinter unable to defend his title due to injury, Gary Moore’s highly rated chaser Sire De Grugy was the 11/4 favourite, and lived up to that tag with comfortable sixth length victory. Although held up at the start of the race, Jamie Moore mount soon tracked the leaders, drew level before pulling away on the flat, confidently running away from the chasing pack for a six length victory.
The 2015 race looked like a mouth-watering showdown between Sire de Grugy and the returning Sprinter Sacre, but sadly it wasn’t to be, as Nicky Henderson star never looked race ready and was disappointingly pulled up well before the end. Sire De Grugy too looked a little out of sorts, eventually finishing fourth, but in one of the tightest and most exciting finishes in recent years, it was Paul Nichols who regained the prize he had last won in 2010, as Dodging Bullets pulled clear of Somersby and Special Tiara over the final furlong to claim a huge victory for Nicholls and his jockey Sam Twiston-Davies.
However a year makes a lot of difference as Sprinter Sacre returned to his magnificent best, taking 5 lengths out of Un De Sceaux and Speical Tiara on the turn to charge up the Cheltenham hill and win by 3 and a half lengths, regaining his crown. Un De Sceaux just held off Special Tiara who once again ran admirably to finish in third place in an emotional renewal of the race.