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Speed is the name of the game in the Champion Chase

29-January-2021 10:35
in General
by Peter McNeile

There are 32 entries in this year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase, which is the main feature of day 2 of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.

Over the last 20 years this race has been won by horses such as Moscow Flyer, Sprinter Sacre, Altior and Master Minded, but who are the leading contenders in this year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase?

Chacun Pour Soi

With odds of 6-4 from the bookies, this three-time Grade One champion, trained by Willie Mullins, could be hard to beat if on his best form on the day, according to the best champions’ day betting tips. He was withdrawn overnight from last year's Champion Chase, so never got to test his mettle against Politologue, but he has the measure of others in the fild, like Defi du Seuil, Notebook & Put The Kettle On.  Last time out, the horse easily defeated Put the Kettle On and Notebook, but he has raced just six times over the previous five years and has never run at Cheltenham.

Perhaps even more surprisingly, Willie Mullins has yet to win the Champion Chase. Goodness knows, he's won just about every other Festival race bar the Foxhunters. 

Chacun Pour Soi wins at Leopardstown over Christmas


Finishing runner-up in the Champion Chase two years ago and taking the trophy last year, Politologue, trained by Paul Nicholls, had an easier task in 2020 with Defi Du Seuil performing below par. However, there were no excuses last Saturday when Kim Bailey's First Flow took him on going doiwn the hill at Ascot, and put it to him fair and square. 

2021 will also see the horse having to compete against the likes of Chacun Pour Soi and Altior, but despite being ten years old, his odds remain attractive at 7-1 as there are few negatives for him.


Altior, a two-time winner of the Champion Chase and the reason Politologue didn’t win in 2019, has odds of 12-1. There are some questions as to whether the horse, which is trained by Nicky Henderson, has lost some of his sparkle after a lacklustre seasonal debut last month. 

One dodgy run-through is not enough to dismiss a horse of this calibre though, having been a winner at the Cheltenham Festival no less than four times, and a ten-time Grade One winner.

On the other hand, Altior is now 11 years old and was last on his best form back in 2019. It seems far more probable Altior would run over a longer distance now and it would be no surprise to see him sresume winning ways in the Ryanair instead.

Nube Negra

Trained by Dan Skelton and at odds of 12-1, Nube Negra defeated Altior at Christmas in the Desert Orchid and suddenly became a leading contender for the Champion Chase.

However, there are still doubts that the horse has what it takes given the rivals he defeated all had good excuses for being on less than their best form. You can only win the race though, and he did, emphatically. He could well be part of a Skelton Festival plunge.

Put the Kettle On

The 2020 Arkle winner, trained by Henry de Bromhead, has produced career bests at the Cheltenham track and of her past 11 starts has won no less than seven of them.

Put the Kettle On has odds of 16-1 for the Champion Chase, but despite the Arkle victory and her defeat of Duc Des Genievres during the Schloer Chase, she failed to best Notebook and Chacun Pour Soi last time out at Leopardstown.

Underperforming rivals maybe the horse’s best chances of winning at Cheltenham, but her attitude is positive and she is in good stead because of her jumping.

Put the Kettle on wins last year's Arkle

Other top contenders include Waiting Patiently, Notebook, Defi Du Seuil, Rouge VIF and Greaneteen, each of which has blemishes on their record this season. However, as any expert will tell you, there's no room for error at Cheltenham in the two-miler; if you're not foot-perfect, then the winner's berth is unlikely to be your final destination.

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