The biggest race by far on the 2nd day of the Cheltenham festival is the Queen Mother Champion Chase. This year the race will be sponsored by Betway for the first time asa apart of their racing sponsorship this year.
A lot of history surrounds this race, which was originally called the National Hunt Two Mile Champion Chase. This race was fist run in 1959. The name was changed on the Queen Mothers 80th birthday in 1980 out of respect and admiration for her love and contribution towards jump racing. The Queen Mother owned her own horses and had a runner up in this race in 1976 with ‘Game Spirit’.
The race will be run over 2 miles and is ran on the old Cheltenham racecourse, there are 12 jumps here in total. This is a moderately short race, so speed, power and jumping ability take precedence over stamina. Jockeys and horses have to be very clever here and really need to work together if they want to be successful. mixing speed with jumping can have some disastrous consequences so it’s about maintaining a balance of precise jumping and speed-bursts in between.
Last years race was won by Sire De Grugy who came from 5th with 4 to go to win by a 5 clear lengths from the field. This was an incredible run from a horse who looked like he could have powered over another furlong or two.
Queen mother champion chase – Horses to keep your eye on.
Sire De Grugy
Sire De Grugy is currently the second favourite behind Sprinter Sacre. This horse is in good form with two wins since Cheltenham last year and one unseated race which raises a small question mark over this horse. This horse has shown he can run in all conditions and poses a very plausible threat to leave all the others eating it’s dirt.
Nicky Henderson’s top rated horse is a racing legend and is the favourite in this race in the bookies eyes. With a record on 9 wins in 11 including a 19 length win at the festival in 2013 this horse looks a strong contender. The only slight concern is the last two races where he lost to Dodging bullets and pulled up in a race Sire Du Grugy went on to win in February.
Another horse in this race with a very high official rating, 161, and he’s recently beaten Sprinter Sacre in his last run out at Ascot in January. For me this isn’t a horse to back at the festival as whilst he has a reasonable record at Cheltenham his record in festival races is poor. In the last 3 years he’s managed a top 4 finish on two occasions and finished a lowly 11th in the other. In all three years he’s yet to really challenge in a race and seems to tail out towards the end of most races.
Mr Mole is my outside pick for this race at 9/1 and he’s a horse thats really found his way in the past 12 months. After a reasonable start to racing winning 3 of 4 Mr Mole had a difficult few races where errors cost him and there were questions raised over his concentration. Jump forward 12 months and he’s now won his last 4 in a row and although he’s a risk at a best price 10/1 is well worth a bet. If Mt Mole gets it right he’s got the ability to challenge the big names at the front of the field in the betting.