Queen Mother Champion Chase Tips: Energumene to avenge Ascot

Energumnene And Shishkin Clarence House Ascot

Day Two promises to be a riveting day of action at Prestbury Park and the highlight is sure to be the Queen Mother Champion Chase. The rematch is on between star two milers Shishkin and Energumene and with the added intrigue of Chacun Pour Soi and Nube Negra's involvement this promises to be another race for the ages...

Racing fans often bemoan the lack of top class clashes away from the Cheltenham Festival throughout the rest of the National Hunt season, however we were treated to a ding dong battle to go down in racing folklore when ENERGUMENE and Shishkin met for the first time in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot back in January. Willie Mullins was lauded for bringing his charge Energumene across the Irish Sea to face a rival as clearly talented as dual Cheltenham Festival victor Shishkin and he was so nearly rewarded with victory. Energumene jumped and travelled superbly for Paul Townend and looked to have the measure of of his rival, particularly after a better leap at the last. However, Shishkin's now famous finishing kick sent him charging after the long time leader and he ground his way to the front before the finishing post to win the pulsating clash by a length.

In the giddy aftermath of such a high quality affair many were keen to simply enjoy the moment, but the National Hunt focussed mind cannot help but think of Cheltenham and the potential for a rematch at Prestbury Park has left us salivating. Thankfully, both horses are still sound and are ready to do battle once more for this Champion Chase prize. Some will think Shishkin ran below himself and still managed to beat Energumene around a track that would suit the latter more and therefore his superiority will only be confirmed or emphasised in this race. I do not subscribe to this view.

Granted, Shishkin has a phenomenal engine, but if his jumping is not tidied up from Ascot Energumene will again look the more assured of the two over his obstacles. I would think any mistakes in this race will hinder Henderson's charge more than they did at Ascot. Additionally, the Champion Chase is run over nearly a furlong less than the Clarence House and Shishkin needed almost every yard of the trip that day to see off Mullins' runner. The price difference between these two racing superstars is just too wide at the moment and a bet on Energumene to upset the odds is the play in the race.

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This is by no means a two horse race, despite the lofty build up this all previews (this one included) have given the rematch between the two market protagonists. Many believe a peak form Chacun Pour Soi would give both Shishkin and Energumene a beating if they raced on his home turf back in the Ireland, but it is hard to shake the image of him wilting up the Cheltenham Hill in last season's race when a short priced favourite behind Put The Kettle On. The Mullins camp retain the faith in the highly rated ten year old and insist for all his beatings when travelling he has had excuses. His trainer is set to change his training routine prior to travelling in the hope that his boat journey over gives him enough of a jolt to perform at his best while not sending him over the top. He cannot be discounted due to his incredible peak performances but is simply too short in the betting with his unreliable British record up against two top class and younger rivals and some proven Cheltenham performers.

The aforementioned Put The Kettle On is set to defend her crown in this year's contest and as the reigning Champion Chaser would normally warrant more than the quick glance over she is receiving by most in this renewal. The reason she is so readily dismissed is that her form this campaign has been fairly appalling, and one suspects even if she were to repeat last year's effort she could still end up fourth or fifth in this year's red-hot race. The horse some considered unlucky to go down to her in last season's event, Nube Negra, is ready to attempt to secure a first Champion Chase for Dan Skelton and if Chacun Pour Soi blows out he is fancied most to follow the big two home. Politologue has been an admirable performer for the Nicholls team over the years and won this race back in 2020, but surely will find this too much now at his age and with the miles on the clock. Envoi Allen was many people's banker in last year's Marsh (now The Turners) before falling but he has looked gone at the game since leaving Gordon Elliott's yard, so it would be a surprise to see him make any impression here. Funambule Sivola completes the line up and as likeable as his performances have been this season he will surely be taken off his feet in this race. Energumene and Shishkin should be fighting out the finish and it is the former who is taken to secure the title and win a first Champion Chase for Willie Mullins.

2022 Queen Mother Champion Chase
Energumene silk


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