Cheltenham Festival 2016 – Champion Chase Preview
2 miles and 12 fences await the fastest 2-mile chasers, and no race make the Cheltenham Crowd catch their breath as much as this one.
Age has proved little barrier in the last 10 years with winners aged 5 to 9, whilst Martha’s Son, Moscow Flyer and One Man all won, despite being aged in double-figures, in the 8 years before that.
Paul Nicholls has trained 3 and Nicky Henderson 2 of the last 10 winners, whilst jockey Barry Geraghty has ridden 5 of the last 13.
5 of the last 14 winners were also the previous year’s Arkle winner – making last year’s Arkle winner the perfect place to start out analysis.
Un De Sceaux 7/4
The winner of all 9 of his completed starts, though he has started odds-on for 8 of them. Beat some highly-regarded horses in last year’s Arkle, though none of them have exactly franked the form yet. Front running style keeps him out for trouble, and gets plenty of good horses off the bridle too early for their liking.
Sprinter Sacre 9/2
The 2013 Champion is looking to find the form that gave him a rating of 190+ in his prime, and he looked back to something like his best when beating Somersby 14 lengths earlier this season at Cheltenham. Has no problem with taking up the running, but could be even more potent with a target like Un De Sceaux to aim at.
Dodging Bullets 8/1
Had a shocking Festival record until winning last year’s Champion Chase. Beat a below par field that day though, and his preparation for this year’s race has already been blighted by injury.
Sire Du Grugy 16/1
Beat Somersby by almost the same distance as Sprinter Sacre when winning the Tingle Creek, and who knows what that win will do for his confidence. Not as good as Sprinter Sacre even at his best though.
Special Tiara 16/1
Finished 6th and 3rd in the last 2 renewals but, even though he’s improving, a place is probably the best he can hope for if one of the lower-priced runners runs up to their best.
Too fragile to really be considered an worthy ante-post bet, but it would certainly be no surprise if he delivered on some of his promise come the big day.
Champagne Fever 33/1
Festival record of 1/1/2 and, should he run in this, he would be of interest. Noticeable that Paul Townend, Willie Mullins’ second jockey, has won all 4 of his rides on him.
Vibrato Valtat 33/1
Probably better than his 3rd in the Tingle Creek, as his stable isn’t in the best of form, however the ground is unlikely to be as soft as he would like it come the big day.
Un De Sceaux could easily be the next big thing in the 2-mle division, whilst Simonsig and Champagne Fever are definitely over-priced on their best form. However Sprinter Sacre really caught the eye on his comeback – and I’d love to see him win!
1 point Sprinter Sacre @ 9/2 (Betfair Sportsbook)
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