Our ante-post specials for the Cheltenham Festival continue with Wednesday’s feature contest, in the form of the Champion Chase.
The two-mile chase has kicked up some special moments over the years, including Sprinter Sacre’s amazing comeback in 2016 and Put The Kettle On becoming the first mare to win the contest last season.
Our team have reviewed the potential contenders for the Grade 1 race and have made their picks that could well be in the mix next year.
Here are three contenders to consider for the 2022 renewal of the Champion Chase.
ENERGUMENE (5/1 – Various)
A very exciting two-miler from Willie Mullins’ yard, Energumene has some unfinished business with the Cheltenham Festival late on back in March.
The seven-year-old missed out on a tasty clash with Shishkin after he was found to be lame in the days building up to the contest.
The gelding returned to action in April, storming clear to win the Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase by 16 lengths at Punchestown.
He is a serious talent and his price of 5/1 is major value for the contest at this stage.
FIRST FLOW (20/1 – bet365)
First Flow made rapid progress last year, and Kim Bailey’s mud lover could show further improvement next season.
The nine-year-old won five of his six starts over the minimum distance in 2020 and he kicked off 2021 with a Group 1 success in the Clarence House at Ascot.
The ground wasn’t in his favour for the Champion Chase, but he gave a respectable effort when finishing six and a half lengths off the winner in sixth.
It’s weather dependant on whether he’ll be competitive in the contest but if the heavens open in March, his price of 20/1 looks cracking value.
SKY PIRATE (40/1 – Unibet + Vbet)
A slight throw of the dart here, but Sky Pirate has proven himself over the minimum distance and he could well be a surprise contender in this company next season.
Jonjo O’Neill’s recruit just held on to win by a short head in the Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival this season.
He does carry Graded experience after placing in the Kingmaker at Warwick and finishing fifth in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.
Grade 1 company may be a step too far for the nine-year-old but he’s still open to improvement and his price of 40/1 will shorten if he strikes early on.