The Cheltenham Festival is just around the corner, and whilst this year’s famous roar is set to be a bit more timid than ever before, due to restrictions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, we are still going to be treated to an action-packed four days of quality racing, including 15 Grade 1s.
Already punters have started examining the form guides, studying the latest odds, looking out for racing tips and are on the hunt for the best Cheltenham betting offers. So, as the countdown to the March showpiece begins, let’s take a look at the early favourites for one of the biggest races of the meeting – the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Chacun Pour Soi – 11/4
Champion Trainer Willie Mullins could put forward Chacun Pour Soi for this year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase, and the eight-year-old has gone in as the early favourite with the bookmakers. The Rich Ricci-owned horse didn’t have the best of starts to his career in France, losing three successive races after a debut victory. However, since moving to Mullins’ yard in 2016, and a mammoth 1089 days away from the track, Chacun Pour Soi has won four of his last five races – all of which have taken place in Ireland. The eight-year-old was amongst the favourites for last year’s race but he pulled out due to an injury.
Altior – 6/1
Having never lost at the historic Gloucestershire meeting, Nicky Henderson-trained Altior is a Cheltenham Festival legend. The 10-year-old’s first victory at the jumps spectacle dates back to 2015, when he was triumphant over Maputo in the Novices’ Hurdle, and he made it back-to-back victories in the Grade 1 race the following year, beating favourite Min by a comfortable seven lengths.
Altior was entered for the Novices’ Chase in 2017, and he proved why was the heavy favourite (1/4) with an empathic six length victory. The 2018 festival was the 10-year-old’s first attempt at the Champion Chase, and again no one could get close to Altior, with Min seven lengths behind in second. The Henderson-trained horse made it successive victories in 2019, albeit with a much shorter one length victory over Politologue. Altior missed 2020’s race through injury but could return this year.
Politologue – 6/1
It’s fair to say that, until last year, Politologue hadn’t had the best of luck at the Cheltenham Festival. In four attempts, 2019 was the Paul Nicholls-trained horse’s best shot of victory at the historic meeting, but he was narrowly denied by Altior. However, his fortunes changed in last year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase. It was an injury-stricken field with Altior and Chacun Pour Soi both pulling out, and he was handed an even bigger boost with heavy favourite Defi Du Seuil never travelling. Nonetheless, jockey Harry Skelton guided the 6/1 shot to an emphatic nine-length victory over the five-horse field.
Put the Kettle On – 8/1
Harry De Bromhead’s Put The Kettle On was a shock winner at last year’s festival. The six-year-old headed to Cheltenham on the back of six successive victories, most of which came in Ireland, but he entered the Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase as a 16/1 outsider. Put The Kettle On jumped the final hurdle with a narrow lead over Fakir D’oudairies, and he just held off the 3/1 shot as the raced towards the finish line.