Queen Mother Champion Chase
One of the feature races of ‘Ladies’ Day’ at the Cheltenham Festival is the Queen Mother Champion Chase (Wednesday March 16, 3:30pm), and this year’s renewal has attracted a stellar line up.
Reigning champion Dodging Bullets is back to try and retain his title, but priced as long as 12/1 with the likes of William Hill and Ladbrokes it would appear he can be classed as nothing more than an outsider.
Two of the key runners here, Un De Sceaux and Sire De Grugy, locked horns recently in the Clarence House Chase, and it was the former who ran out a comfortable winner. No wonder he has been installed as an odds-on favourite with Paddy Power and many other bookmakers despite two falls on his CV.
Sprinter Sacre, another former winner, is also in the confirmed field, and if he can put those heath problems behind them then he perhaps represents the stiffest test to Un De Sceaux’s dominance. A victory over Sire De Grugy during the festive period would certainly support that statement.
Another interesting proposition is Vautour, a Willie Mullins charge that is a two-time Cheltenham winner in recent years. Defeat in the King George VI Chase at Kempton seems to have taken the shine off this once much-fancied powerhouse.
Perhaps it is the presence of jockey Barry Geraghty will help to shape punters’ decision-making. He is the most prolific winner of this race in its long history having squired five winners, and with the Irishman likely to once again take the reins of Sprinter Sacre maybe the biggest shock result of the festival will be found here.