Punchestown Champion Chase Tips: Energumene to sign off with a bang

Energumnene And Shishkin Clarence House Ascot

A field of five will go to post for the Grade 1 Punchestown Champion Chase, set to take place on Day One of the Festival on Tuesday April 26th 2022. Chacun Pour Soi romped to success in this race in 2021 but he is not the favourite this time round as stablemate and reigning Champion Chaser Energumene is set to take his chance. Billy Grimshaw has chosen which of the big two he fancies...

Willie Mullins has won this race on six occasions, including the last three runnings in 2018, 2019 and 2021 (the Festival was cancelled due to COVID in 2020). The Closutton handler has finally shaken off his curse in Cheltenham Champion Chases after ENERGUMENE cruised to this year's Queen Mother crown, and predictably it is Mullins who holds the aces coming into this one. He is undoubtedly this season's top two mile dog after his agonising defeat by Shishkin at Ascot was avenged in style when Henderson's charge bombed out at Cheltenham and Energumene travelled all over the rest of the field before kicking away to a commanding success by eight and a half lengths. His consistent excellence this season marks him out as king of this division and he is undoubtedly the one to beat here, as the odds suggest.

After Shishkin was pulled up in the Champion Chase, only one horse was a serious contender to Energumene and that was CHACUN POUR SOI. Unfortunately for connections and his backers that day, no sooner had the enthralled crowd got over the shock of Shishkin's withdrawal, they had to witness another shocker as Chacun came down at five out. He looked to be putting in a much improved performance in comparison to his lacklustre display at Prestbury Park back in 2021, and it was a shame we didn't get to see if he could find enough off the bridle to disrupt his stablemate who went on to record such a dominant success.

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If the odds compilers are to be believed, this race is all about the top two. The next runner in the market is ANDY DUFRESNE at 16/1 at the time of writing. Undoubtedly a talented runner and once though of as a future Grade 1 contender, he has never quite hit the heights expected of him, His last run was arguably a career best, when travelling strongly and trading short in-running in the 2022 Grand Annual before not being able to find the necessary finishing kick to get past long time leader Global Citizen. It would take either a huge step up or a bombing out of both of the top two for him to be involved come the final furlong, you'd think.

ENVOI ALLEN is next in the market and it is still a rather sad sight to see his fall from grace since being anointed the second coming of Christ throughout his novice hurdle and chase campaigns. When housed at Gordon Elliott's he looked to have the racing world at his feet but since the scandal regarding the trainer and Cheveley Park moving all of their horses to different yards, Envoi Allen hasn't looked anywhere near what he used to be for Henry De Bromhead. Of course, horses are quirky creatures and anytime he runs one cannot rule out a full bounce back from Envoi Allen, but in truth it is more likely he does not complete than troubles the market principles. Finally, the field is completed by CAPTAIN GUINNESS. The outsider of the field will probably find this contest too hot, as he has in most Grade One tasks he has been set so far, but if he is ridden patiently to pick up the pieces he could be one for the 'without Mullins' market.

It should be an exciting renewal of the Punchestown Champion Chase despite the small field and my money would be on ENERGUMENE to wrap up his fine season in style by defeating his older stablemate. Chacun Pour Soi is a formidable opponent on home soil and if he runs to his very best on the ratings has the better of his stablemate. However, I think Energumene could also have more to give and with his tactical versatility now demonstrated I expect to see him put the cherry on top to crown his season as both Cheltenham and Punchestown Champion Chaser. 

Punchestown Champion Chase
Energumene silk


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