Champion Chase tips – Runner-by-runner preview of Wednesday’s feature
Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at Wednesday’s Grade One feature race on day two of the Cheltenham Festival and gives his Champion Chase tips to land Grade One glory in Wednesday’s main event.
The Queen Mother Champion Chase is the big race of the day on the second day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival and the top-class two mile championship is one of four Grade One races on the Wednesday racecard.
Unfortuately for punters we’ve lost dual-champion Altior from the big-race line-up with Nicky Henderson’s star failing to recover in time from injury; but there are still seven classy runners heading to post, each with an eye on the £225,000 first prize.
There’ll be a new name on the trophy following Altior’s withdrawal and Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at the big race field for Wednesday’s feature where he gives his Champion Chase tips for Grade One glory.
CHAMPION CHASE TIPS – BRIAN HEALY’S SELECTION
A smart performer on his day and boasts course-winning form as well as finishing runner-up in last season’s Grand Annual Chase.
Tom George’s Shantou gelding made a pleasing return when finishing only a head second behind Magic Saint after which he lowered the colours of Arkle Chase hero Duc Des Genievres in the Desert Orchid Chase.
An early casualty in the Game Spirit Chase when last seen, falling at the third fence, he has a bit to find with the principals on the balance of his form although he should give it a good go without being quite good enough to land the spoils.
CHACUN POUR SOI
Potentially top-class over fences and still lightly raced in this sphere having had just four starts over the larger obstacles for Willie Mullins although he did make the frame in a chase in France for Emmanuel Clayeux as well as win over hurdles for that trainer.
The Policy Maker gelding ran out a ready winner over Defi Du Seuil on just his second outing over fences following his move to this yard, scoring by four lengths in the Ryanair Novices’ Chase, and he probably needed his run on his reappearance when finishing runner-up to A Plus Tard at Leopardstown over Christmas.
He showed the benefit of that run however to impressively beat high-class stablemate Min to win the Dublin Chase and there’s lightly better to come from him over fences. Deeper ground would be a concern, but he has won on soft and could continue to improve so no surprise if he upholds the form of his defeat over Philip Hobbs’ charge given his potential.
DEFI DU SEUIL
Already a dual-Cheltenham Festival winner, landing the 2017 Triumph Hurdle during an unbeaten seven-race season; but he failed to progress the following campaign although he’s certainly got his act together over fences where he has won six of his nine starts in this sphere including last season’s JLT Novices’ Chase having also won the Scilly Isles’ Novices’ Chase previously.
The Voix Du Nord gelding was outgunned over two miles by ChacunPour Soi on better ground at Punchestown, but he’s 3-3 this season including winning the Clarence House Chase when last seen beating Un De Sceaux.
That is a decent trial for this contest and he looks sure to make his presence felt again with conditions ideal. He’s also won both the Shloer Chase and Tingle Creek Chase this term and he looks the one to beat with plenty in his favour.
One of two Paul Nicholls-trained runners, the Buck’s Boum gelding won four of his five starts over fences as a novice, winning the Grade One Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown and adding further Grade Two wins to his haul at Kempton and Doncaster.
Absent for more than a year following his last success, he ran well on his return in the Game Spirit Chase where he crossed the line three lengths’ third behind Altior having travelled and jumped well throughout before tiring.
He perhaps wasn’t best suited by having to make most of the running following the departure of Bun Doran; but he should strip fitter for that return to action and he could go well if building on that run although he has a bit to find on form with the principals.
Classy chaser on his day, but he’s winless since landing the 2018 Christy 1965 Chase from Charbel although he has been lightly raced since.
A Grade One winner in his younger days, he has contested the last two renewals of this race where he has been beaten both times by Altior although he was less than two lengths’ adrift of Nicky Henderson’s star when bagging the silver twelve months ago.
Readily brushed aside by Min at Aintree on his next start, he has been beaten on both runs this term behind Defi Du Seuil and has work to do on those runs if he’s to win a Champion Chase at the third attempt. He does go well fresh though and could bounce back with a better effort although he perhaps lacks the speed nowadays to be competitive over this trip.
High-class chaser at his best but perhaps not quite up to Grade One level and he’s winless over fences since taking the 2018 Shloer Chase.
Alan King’s charge finished third in this race twelve months ago and chased home Altior at Sandown on his final start of the campaign in the Celebration Chase. He’s been beaten on all three starts this term although he was entitled to need his return; but he had no answer to Bun Doran at Kempton two runs ago and finished runner-up at Newbury latest behind Altior in the Game Spirit Chase.
He is entitled to give his running but his win record over fences isn’t convincing and he’ll likely find a couple too strong again.
CHAMPION CHASE TIPS – BIG RACE VERDICT
This is likely to boil down to a straight shoot-out between Defi Du Seuil and CHACUN POUR SOI with narrow preference for the Willie Mullins-trained runner who beat the dual-Cheltenham hero readily at Punchestown last term on just his second chase start for the County Carlow trainer.
Having needed his reappearance behind A Plus Tard at Leoaprdstown, he made no mistake next time to vanquish his high-class stablemate Min to win the Dublin Chase and he can progress again on the back of that effort.
The ground for the Policy Maker is a slight worry with Defi Du Seuil proven in the conditions, and while the Mullins runner has won on soft, he has done all his winning on testing ground. However he likely has better to come and is less exposed as a chaser so if handling the conditions he could confirm last season’s Punchestown winning form with Philip Hobbs’ classy rival.