Most hotly anticipated races are usually associated with duals. Two horses meeting for the first time with deadly reputations or scores to settle. When there are three involved, the excitement and anticipation is greatly amplified.
The Champion Chase has thrown down some classic three horse battles down the years. Who could forget the last fence thriller of Viking Flagship, Travado and Deep Sensation in 1994 or the emotion of Sprinter Sacre shaking off the challenges of favourite Un De Sceaux and previous winner Special Tiara in 2016?
This year’s Betway Champion Chase on Ladies Day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival is without doubt the race of the week.
The tenacious and mighty Altior will attempt to win a hat trick of Champion Chase victories, a feat not achieved since Badsworth Boy back in 1985. But this is by far his most difficult challenge. He faces not only one very progressive and talented horse but two.
Defi Du Seuil has enthralled racegoers with his superb victories since his JLT Novices win last year at The Festival whilst Chacun Pour Soi for owner Rich Ricci and trainer Willie Mullins has proved himself also as a viable candidate to usurp Altior’s crown.
We’ll assess the chances of the three main challengers and guide you to the best prices currently available.
Strap yourselves in. This is box office National Hunt racing at its best.
The Nicky Henderson trained superstar has just about restored his reputation since his defeat to Cyrname in The Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot last November. His last run at Newbury in The Win Bigger On The Betfair Exchange Chase saw strong signs of the Champion Chaser being revitalised and back to his very best.
You could argue that this win appeared laboured (coaxed along from three out) but that’s the way Altior does it: it’s never pretty but it’s effective.
The plan will be simple. Nico De Boinville will keep him up with the pace within striking distance of Defi Du Seuil and Chacun Pour Soi and deliver that devastating turn of foot to carry him up the hill. The only problem is that Defi Du Seuil also has effective gears and proved over Cheltenham.
However, one does simply not back against Altior and I think he has the firepower..just..to land one more Champion Chase for Seven Barrows. But he will have to improve on his runs this season.
2/1 with Bet365 (Best Odds Guaranteed & NRNB), Unibet, Coral.
DEFI DU SEUIL
Philip Hobbs’ superstar has now registered 6 wins at Cheltenham since 2016 taking in a Triumph Hurdle and last year’s JLT Novices Chase. He oozes class and tenacity and looks even better this year.
Hasn’t put a foot wrong all season in terms of his own performance although the opponents he has dispatched could be regarded as questionable.
Narrowly beating the 12 year old Un De Sceaux twice in the twilight of his career doesn’t exactly set the formbook alight. Un De Sceaux is not the same horse he was two years ago. However, Altior looks vulnerable and if Defi brings his A game, it will be a race to savour.
9/4 Betfair, Paddy Power, Unibet, Coral, Betfred
CHACUN POUR SOI
One of our ten to follow, this Willie Mullins trained 8 year old is arguably the unexposed entry in the line-up.
Very difficult to assess due to one mediocre run but certainly bounced back in The Ladbrokes Dublin Chase putting the talented and reliable Min to the sword by nearly 4 lengths.
For me, that is the best form demonstrated by the three leading protagonists.
He’s already had Defi’s scalp after beating him by 4 lengths at Punchestown last April although the Philip Hobbs charge was well below par that day. If Chacun Pour Soi adapts well to the demands of the Cheltenham track (as Willie Mullins rising stars so often do) then we could see the Rich Ricci dance in the winner’s enclosure once more.
11/4 Bet365 (Best Odds Guaranteed and NRNB), Unibet, Betfred.
A Plus Tard beat a very green Chacun Pour Soi earlier in the season and has a Festival handicap win to this name. Each way contender at 12/1 with William Hill but this full ante post bet might be risky with The Ryanair Chase also in mind.
The Paul Nicholls pair Politologue and Dynamite Dollars definitely warrant each way respect and represent tremendous value at 25/1 (William Hill full ante post rules) and 25/1 (Bet365, Best Odds Guaranteed and NRNB) respectively.
Almost impossible to separate these three. However, despite the each way temptation of entries lower down, I feel it will go to one of the three market leaders with the preference for Altior’s never say die commitment and Nicky Henderson’s habit of getting his horses just right on the big day.
MORE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL!
- How To Bet on the Cheltenham Festival!
- How To Bet on Horse Racing!
- How To Win at Cheltenham Festival!
- Cheltenham Festival 2020 Betting Offers!
- Cheltenham Festival 2020 Events Page!
Please note all odds are correct at the time of publishing (1pm 1st March 2020) and are subject to change.