Day 2 of the 4 day Festival and the big race is the Queen Mother Champion Chase where 9 are fighting it out to be crowned the 2 mile chasing champion.
Nicky Henderson has won 4 of the last 7 runnings of this including last year with the monster that is Altior. The reigning champ heads here again and it’s difficult to see him being turned over. He’s won all 12 chases he’s contested and had a perfect 5 out of 5 over hurdles too. Those wins included wins at the last 3 Festivals, winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2016, the Arkle in 2017 and this race 12 months ago. 4 of his 8 rivals here were behind last year with Min 2nd, Gods Own 3rd, Politologue 4th and Ordinary World 5th. It’s hard to see any of them turning the tables on him which is why all bets have to be in the market with the favourite taken out.
Min is 2nd favourite and is the sole challenger from the Willie Mullins yard. He had options at the Festival with the Ryanair touted as a possible target but he’s chosen to try and lower the colours of Altior. He’s priced around the 4/1 mark and is the only horse, apart from the favourite, pricing in single figures. He’s won a couple of Grade 1’s this season and looks a clear second best here. That is reflected in his price, trading at odds on without the favourite.
It’s arguable that you could throw a blanket over the other 8. Sceau Royal is 5 from 7 over fences but was a distant last against Altior the last time he was seen over fences and ran over hurdles in his prep run. I’d be a little concerned if the ground was riding soft. Politologue is versatile regarding distance which leads me to believe he doesn’t have the speed for this. A flat track would suit better.
Gods Own was 3rd last year and I wouldn’t be surprised if he repeated the feat this year. He’s run at the last 4 Festivals and has yet to be disgraced. 2nd at 33/1 to Un De Sceaux in 2015 and then 3 runs in this race. He was 4th at 20/1 behind Sprinter Sacre in 2016 before a terrible blunder at the business end in 2017 meant he faded into 5th. Without that mistake, he’d have been right in the mix up. Last year he ran a massive race in 3rd behind Altior and Min, and I don’t see the opposition as being any stronger this year. This year he won a Grade 2 chase before finishing 2nd behind Charbel over 2 miles 4 furlongs. Back at Cheltenham over the minimum trip, he should be right up there troubling the places.
This might be his first time out of Ireland but Castlegrace Paddy comes here with a solid place chance too. He was incredibly impressive when landing a Grade 2 chase on his seasonal reappearance on soft. Since then, he’s not been as good in finishing 4th, a short head behind Ordinary World in a Grade 1 and then falling at the 1st in the Dublin Chase behind Min. I’m happy that he’s back on soft ground, all 3 of his 6 chase wins have come on the 3 occasions he’s encountered genuine soft ground so I’m hoping it rains hard between now and the off time. Davy Russell is a good jockey booking and he should go well for Pat Fahy who has only 3 runners at the 4 day Festival.
Hell’s Kitchen is stepping out of handicap company whilst Ordinary World was no better than ordinary in this last year. Saint Calvados could run well but his free running style will probably see him swallowed up by the market principles late on.
In an 8 runner market, we are hoping for a bit of luck in that we need to get Min beat. If we do, the 2 most likely to profit at big each way odds are Gods Own and Castlegrace Paddy.
Back Gods Own (e/w) in the ‘without Altior’ market for a 1/10 stake at 12.00 Betfair Sportsbook (⅕ odds 1-3)
Back it here:
Back Castlegrace Paddy (e/w) in the ‘without Altior’ market for a 1/10 stake at 12.00 Bet365 (1/5 odds 1-3)