2023 Champion Chase Entries: Big three all set for Cheltenham rematch
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The undisputed highlight of Day Two at the Cheltenham Festival comes in the form of the Queen Mother Champion Chase, a thrilling race every season pitting the best two mile chasers around against each other for one of the most prestigious prizes in racing. The defending champion will attempt to retain his crown, while last season's star novice will attempt to take the title. Here we analyse the nine runners who could still take their chance at the six day confirmation stage as part of our Cheltenham Tips series...
The market has been struggling to split the leading duo of 2022 Champion Chaser Energumene and 2022 Arkle hero Edwardstone for some time now. Willie Mullins' defending champion was odds-on over the summer and got even shorter when Shishkin bombed out in the Tingle Creek behind Edwardstone, with Nicky Henderson confirming Shishkin would head up in trip next time out. Edwardstone won well that day and was confirmed as the main danger to the favourite, but it was what happened next in the rearranged Clarence House Chase that has really formed the market.
Editeur Du Gite was sent off an 18/1 outsider against the big two in that race, but under an inspired Niall Houlihan front running ride he broke Energumene, who looked out of sorts from the get-go, and eventually dismissed the fierce challenge of Edwardstone. The suspicion is that was Gary Moore's runners big day and the big two will get past him in the Champion Chase now they have had a taste of tracking him, but he could be improving still and the yard and owners are of course no strangers to Champion Chase glory with Sire De Grugy taking the title back in 2014.
All three will re-oppose here, and could still be joined by Blue Lord, who has been confirmed for the race but looks more likely to head for the Ryanair. He was a shorter price for both races prior to running a stinker at the Dublin Racing Festival, a meeting in which stablemate Gentleman De Mee reintroduced himself as a Champion Chase player/ He of course took the scalp of Edwardstone at Aintree last year and has proven himself to be a spring horse, so is not one to be underestimated after seeing his odds collapse from 66/1 into 8/1. He could end up in a pace battle with Editeur Du Gite, which would be a fascinating sub plot to the race in terms of how much rope would the other rivals allow this front running pair.
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Of the X other confirmations, Greaneteen and Nube Negra are both lively outsiders in terms of an each-way punt, as both have been there, done it and got the T shirt in these events without ever being able to get across the line in front. If the ground came up good both British runners chances would be improved but it would probably take a couple of the big four bombing out (not impossible in this race) to mean a place return for any backers.
The two expected outsiders of the field look set to be Captain Guinness and Funambule Sivola, although both possess some decent form and are certainly not no-hopers. Captain Guinness will be the mount of Rachael Blackmore and was no match for Blue Lord when last seen, but did run a decent enough race here in the 2021 Arkle when beaten by a Shishkin who was at his brilliant best.
Funambule Sivola won the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury last time out which has probably convinced connections to have a pop at this rather than the Grand Annual, and he did actually finish second in this race last season behind Energumene. Since that day he has been well beaten by Editeur Du Gite and Edwardstone, however, which explains why he will be a massive price.