Cheltenham Queen Mother Champion Chase Preview


Edwardstone Champion Chase


We will be well into the swing of the Cheltenham Festival by the time Wednesday 15th March rolls around, with the thrilling first day in the record books for another year. As ever, this meeting is the gift that keeps on giving, and there will be little time to draw breath before Day 2 kicks into gear.

Highlights abound on the second day, with another four cracking Grade 1 events on offer - in addition to the huge betting heat of the Coral Cup Handicap. Taking place slap bang in the middle of the card is the day's feature contest of the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Won by all-time greats Altior and Sprinter Sacre in recent years, the question on the lips of punters is, “Who will come out on top in 2023?”.

Best of the British: Edwardstone 7/4 @ BetUK

Much is made of the Irish dominance at this meeting, but they don’t quite hold all of the aces in the Festival’s championship-level events. Leading the way in the Champion Chase market is Edwardstone, hailing from the Wiltshire yard of Alan King.

Rated as high as 149 over hurdles, this son of Kayf Tara was always expected to make a better chaser. That assessment certainly proved to be accurate, as last season saw Edwardstone emerge as the best 2m novice in training. Six chase starts yielded four wins, with the big highlight seeing him come home 4½l clear in the Arkle Chase – a race which has a solid record of producing the winner of this event.

Fast forward to the current season, and it has been something of a mixed bag for the nine-year-old. Brilliant in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, he then unseated his rider at Kempton, before going down narrowly to the reopposing Editeur De Gite at this track last time out. Editeur De Gite did enjoy the run of the race that day though, whilst Edwardstone reportedly wasn’t fully tuned up for the occasion. In an open year, he boasts rock-solid claims.

The Main Irish Challenger: Energumene 2/1 @ William Hill

Heading up the Irish threat is none other than Willie Mullins's defending champion Energumene. This race is no stranger to a back-to-back winner, with Viking Flagship (1994,95), Master Minded (2008,09), and Altior (2018, 19) amongst those to have achieved the feat in the past. Plenty believe that Energumene is well positioned to join that list.

The bare result of the 2022 edition would suggest that the mount of Paul Townend boasts strong claims, with Energumene having come home fully 8½l clear of his nearest rival. However, that winning margin perhaps doesn’t tell the full story, with odds on favourite, Shiskin, being pulled up, and third favourite Chacun Pour Soi unseating his rider. Those factors took a little of the sheen off his victory, but in fairness to the horse he did back it up with a win in the Punchestown Champion Chase, and returned this season with a solid success in Cork’s Hilly Way Chase.

The major negative regarding Energumene’s chance stems from a seriously underwhelming display in the Clarence House Chase last time out, when finishing behind both Editeur Du Gite and Edwardstown. All of his old sparkle looked to be missing that day and, whilst he is in the right hands to rediscover it, he will need to.

The Lively Outsiders: Gentleman De Mee 8/1 & Nube Negra 20/1, both @ Coral

If for whatever reason, Energumene does disappoint, it may not be enough to completely derail the Mullins challenge. Also making the trip over from Closutton is the seven-year-old Gentleman De Mee, who boasts compelling claims on the very best of his form. 4½l too good for Edwardstown in the Maghull Novices Chase last season, he arrives on the back of a seven-length romp in the Grade 1 Dublin Chase and shouldn’t be underestimated – particularly if the rain stays away.

Looking a little further down the list, don’t rule out a big run from Dan Skelton’s Nube Negra. Like Gentleman De Mee, this one doesn’t score top marks for consistency, but when he is good, he is very good. Boasting wins over former champion chasers Altior and Politologue on his CV, Nube Negra came within half a length of winning the big one himself in 2021. That may have been his big chance, but arriving fresh following a significant break, he may retain enough ability to hit the frame in what doesn’t look like a vintage year.

Race Prediction

  • 1st - Gentleman De Mee
  • 2nd - Edwardstone
  • 3rd - Nube Negra

More Cheltenham Festival Articles:

Cheltenham Betting Offers 2023

Cheltenham Gold Cup Preview 2023

Cheltenham Champion Hurdle Preview

Cheltenham Festival 155/1 Acca

Cheltenham Ryanair Chase Preview

Cheltenham Stayers Hurdle Preview

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