The Champion Chase is the feature event on the second day of the Festival and the biggest race of the year for two mile chasers, won in the past by the likes of the brilliant Sprinter Sacre, Moscow Flyer and more. The reigning champion is Special Tiara who hung on grimly from Fox Norton last year and will be looking to repeat the feat, there are as always a few important trends to help pick the winner which we will analyse below and you can see our Champion Chase tips here.
Champion Chase Trends
- Match fitness helps – 14 of the last 15 winners had raced within eight weeks of the Festival
- Punters are shrewd – 11 of the last 15 winners came from the front three in the betting
- Track experience is hard to beat – 13 of the last 15 winners had run over fences at Cheltenham before
- Henderson has the hot hand – Nicky Henderson has won three of the last six renewals
- Arkle is a key trial – 8 of the last 9 Arkle winners who ran in the Champion Chase the following year finished placed or better
Trends – Key Runners
Special Tiara ✅❌✅❌❌
Ordinary World ✅❌✅❌❌
Doctor Phoenix ✅❌❌❌❌
The short priced antepost favourite for this year’s renewal of the Champion Chase is Altior, he fits all of the trends here as he is in the care of Champion Trainer Nicky Henderson and was an easy winner of last year’s Arkle Trophy Challenge, he should be hard to beat.
The Champion Chase has been a tricky puzzle to solve all season with two of the big guns Altior and Douvan having unsettled preparations but the picture was cleared up a fair amount when Nicky Henderson’s brilliant gelding bolted up on his seasonal reappearance in the Game Spirit Chase. He was only pushed out to comfortably beat Tingle Creek winner Politologue and hardened up significantly in the market following a performance which was nothing short of sensational following a wind op. He should be very tough to beat if arriving to Cheltenham in the same form as he is rated 170 with scope for further improvement.
Politologue was well and truly outgunned when meeting Altior but his trainer Paul Nicholls offered some reasons he may get a bit closer at the Festival, he was apparently very much in need of the run at Newbury and would be better suited to taking a lead rather than doing the donkey work himself so there is a some hope for any potential backers there. He was an impressive winner of the Tingle Creek when comprehensively outjumping last year’s Champion Chase runner up Fox Norton and a repeat of that could well see him competitive here.
The imponderable in this lineup is very much Douvan. He was an impressive winner of every start in his career in Britain and Ireland before a shock defeat in last year’s Champion Chase at odds of 2/9 when sustaining an injury during the race. He has been off since and was ruled out for the season not long ago before the Mullins camp began to share much more positive bulletins and he now looks to be on track for a Festival appearance. He is rated a lofty 174 and would be a seriously tough nut to crack if arriving to Cheltenham at his best but whether that is possible remains to be seen. The most solid contender for Willie Mullins at the moment is Min who was an easy winner of the Dublin Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival last time out, Yorkhill disappointing in behind but he was far superior to both Simply Ned and last year’s Champion Chaser Special Tiara so it was no walkover. He’ll have to post a career best to beat Altior and the rest but he’s a very serious contender and should throw his hat into the ring come March.
Last year’s winner Special Tiara must be afforded the utmost respect as he has never run a bad race in the Champion Chase but he isn’t getting any younger and it would be an unbelievable effort to win the race for the second year running in what is potentially a deep renewal. He will try to make all and get some of these out of their comfort zones which he will likely manage but since 1976 there has only been one eleven year old winner of this race and that was the legendary Moscow Flyer. An outsider who may run well is Ordinary World. He was a decent second behind the exciting Altior in the Arkle last year and has run some good races against the very best two milers since.
Check out our Cheltenham Festival tips section where you can find more trends as well as previews, tips and more.