Joe Casey takes a closer peek at the feature race on Day 2 of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, the Champion Chase. Ten runners will go to post for what promises to be an absolute thriller, even if Altior is absent.
Chacun Pour Soi (odds 10-11)
A late non runner in this last year, he is the red hot favourite this time around, looking to overcome Willie Mullins’ terrible record in the race. A strong travelling type, he has been better than ever this term, beating some of these in small field Irish Grade 1’s with ease. However, he has never run at the track and could be worth taking on at the price.
Cilaos Emery (odds 20-1)
Willie Mullins’ other runner, he has only been seen twice since finishing fourth in last year’s Champion Hurdle. Both occasions have been small field Graded chases in Ireland, winning one and beaten cosily by a stablemate in the other. Would be a surprise if he were up to this vastly different challenge.
First Flow (odds 14-1)
He has taken his form to a completely new level this season, winning six on the spin. He was particularly impressive last time out when beating Politologue in the Clarence House, running everything else into the ground. Definitely wants plenty of cut in the ground however and looks unlikely to get it.
Greaneteen (odds 33-1)
Improver for top trainer, he has only run in seven chases so there could be more to come. Despite that, his performance last time out behind Sceau Royal indicates perhaps he is not quite up to this level yet.
Notebook (odds 33-1)
Followed Chacun Pour Soi home the last twice, both times seemingly not quite enough pace to match the winner. He has also run poorly both times at Cheltenham, particularly in last year’s Arkle.
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Nube Negra (odds 8-1)
Testament to his trainer that he is in with a shout in this race, given he started life as a maiden over seven furlongs in Spain. He has only run once this term, blowing away Altior in the Desert Orchid. That was so far above what he has done previously that it would have to be taken on confidence that he can repeat such an effort.
Politologue (odds 10-1)
Made all in this race last year and despite that being a weak renewal he did win authoritatively. He also won the Tingle Creek this year and eight of the last ten winners of that race have gone on to take this. However, he was disappointing when beaten by First Flow last time and may need others to underperform to be successful. Jumps for fun and will at least make sure it is a strongly run race.
Put The Kettle On (odds 10-1)
The sole mare in this field, she gets seven pounds from her rivals here. She is as game as they come and loves Cheltenham, unbeaten in her three starts at the track including last year’s Arkle. She is ground versatile and is on better terms with Chacun Pour Soi than their meeting at Leopardstown last time out. Always seems to defy expectations.
Rouge Vif (odds 20-1)
Bolted up in a handicap here in October, although his form generally is quite in and out. He would want the ground as quick as possible, but regardless may not be quite up to this.
Sceau Royal (odds 20-1)
So often the bridesmaid over the larger obstacles, it was pleasing to see him win last time out. The form of his Welsh Champion Hurdle win is rock solid as well. Place claims here but again may not have enough to win.
Champion Chase tip
In a race with such a short priced favourite who has never run at the track, it may be worth siding with something at a bigger price with solid course form. Henry De Bromhead’s Put The Kettle On is three from three here, coming out on top in some real battles up the hill, namely in last year’s Arkle. She always defies expectation and the mares allowance puts her in with a huge each way shout against the boys.
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