Cheltenham festival The Queen Mother Champion Chase
The Queen Mother Champion Chase is the feature race on day two of the Cheltenham Festival and this year’s renewal should prove to be a thrilling battle. The shorter distance typically ensures a pulsating finish and the atmosphere will be electric as the Ladies Day crowd roars them down the home straight.
It is the leading minimum-distance chase in the National Hunt calendar and always attracts an exceptionally strong field studded with superstar talent. A truly exceptional group of 30 entries has declared for this year’s race and you can expect ante post betting to go into overdrive as the March Festival approaches.
Who won the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2017?
Special Tiara defied odds of 11/1 to romp to victory in the 2017 Queen Mother Champion Chase ahead of Fox Norton and Sir Valentino.
It was a huge shock as the previously unbeaten Douvan went off as the 2/9 favourite and was heavily backed to maintain his unbeaten run. But Willie Mullins’ leading chaser jumped poorly and was later found to have suffered a pelvic injury, leading him to be declared lame.
One unlucky punter staked half a million pounds on Douvan at 1/5, but his performance was shocking. Special Tiara seized the opportunity to pull off one of the greatest upsets in Cheltenham history. He just about held on to see off the charge of a rampaging Fox Norton, while 33/1 shot Sir Valentino did extremely well to place.
Have any horses won the Queen Mother Champion Chase two years running?
Several horses have won the Queen Mother Champion Chase in consecutive years, including Master Minded, Viking Flagship, Barnbrook Again and Pearlyman.
Badsworth Boy won it three years on the trot for Michael Dickinson, between 1983 and 1985.
What are the odds on Special Tiara winning his second consecutive Champion Hurdle?
That augurs well for Special Tiara in this year’s contest, but he is a 16/1 outsider to pull off a repeat victory. He has not won since that famous victory last year, which has caused the odds on him to drift.
Special Tiara finished second in the Celebration Chase, third in the Schloer Chase, fell in the Desert Orchid Chase and was third in this month’s Dublin Chase. The four winners of those races – Altior, Fox Norton, Politologue and Min – are all declared for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, so he will have his work cut out if he is to overhaul them.
Which top trainers have horses scheduled to run in the Queen Mother Champion Chase?
Nicky Henderson has Altior and Top Notch declared for the race, while Mullins has nine to choose from, including Min, Douvan, Un De Sceaux and Yorkhill.
Paul Nicholls’ Politologue is scheduled to run in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, and Henry de Bromhead will be counting on Special Tiara and Ordinary World. Gordon Elliott has put forward Doctor Phoenix and Ball D’Arc, while Colin Tizzard’s Fox Norton and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Foxtail Hill are in the mix.
Who is the favourite to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase?
Altior is the current favourite to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase, priced at evens. He has had his injury problems and has spent a long time on the treatment table, but Henderson says he is on course to return for the big race.
He is unbeaten in 11 races and will be the punters’ darling heading into the festival if he wins his warm-up race at Newbury on Saturday.
Who are the horses to watch?
We still do not know what the final field will be, but right now there are several magnificent horses to look out for. The big surprise is that Mullins has put Douvan forward, after previously ruling him out for the season. If he recaptures his best form, he can be the one to take Altior down, but that is a big if.
Politologue has been the star two-year-old chaser this year and got the better of Fox Norton to win the Tingle Creek in December, so he looks like an interesting option. Min lost out to Altior here in 2016, but has won six of nine career starts and is in exceptional form, so he could also run the favourite close.
Who looks the best long shot?
You could do worse than an each-way bet on Special Tiara at 16/1 as he has only been out of the places once, when he fell, and has shown he loves the course and the trip. A longer shot could be Foxtail Hill at 66/1 after his strong win in the Randox Health Handicap Chase back in October.