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Cheltenham Festival Race Previews: Champion Chase

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2B691J2 Jockey Aidan Coleman on Put The Kettle On after winning the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase on day one of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham.

Willie Mullins has won every Grade 1 race on the current Cheltenham Festival programme – except for the Champion Chase.

The second day’s main race is one that has eluded the Closutton trainer for many years, with Un De Sceaux and Min finishing second in recent time.

He possesses a golden opportunity to break his duck here with Chacun Pour Soi, who was ruled out of last year’s contest at the 11th hour.

Chacun Pour Soi and Paul Townend after winning at Leopardstown Racecourse in December 2020
Chacun Pour Soi is the Champion Chase hotpot for many, bidding to give trainer Willie Mullins his first win in the race

The nine-year-old has won six of his seven starts over fences since joining the Mullins’ yard, and landed all three of his starts this season in emphatic style.

The French-bred gelding could complete his trainer’s set of Cheltenham Festival Grade 1 successes here and has clearly shown his talent over the last two seasons.

However, there has only been one Irish trainer in the last nine years to win the Champion Chase, with Henry De Bromhead’s Special Tiara landing victory in 2017.

Mullins’ has seen two odds-on favourites overturned since 2016, with 4/6 shot Un De Sceaux finishing behind Sprinter Sacre in 2016, while Douvan could only manage seventh at a price of 2/9 a year later.

Chacun Pour Soi will have his work cut out here, as he faces an array of talented chasers.

Nicky Henderson reading a racecard at the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England
Nicky Henderson has won the Champion Chase five times in the 21st century, including via Altior on two occasions

Only the second horse to ever beat Altior over obstacles, Nube Negra can continue to improve with another big performance here.

The seven-year-old caused an upset in the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase over Christmas, seeing off Henderson’s talent by 3 1/2 lengths.

He will retain jockey Harry Skelton for this contest, which could well boost his chances here.

It does mean last year’s winner Politologue will go for back-to-back victories without his usual rider, with Harry Cobden taking the ride for Paul Nicholls.

Can Paul Nicholls win the Champion Chase again through stable-star Politologue?

Greaneteen joins his stablemate as second string, with the Haldon Gold Cup winner a contender for the places.

First Flow landed a six-timer when beating Politologue in the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase, and could be a serious contender if the ground softens up beforehand.

Put The Kettle On will be aiming to continue the trend of Arkle winners going on to land this contest, but she will have to do something that no mare has ever done in – win the Champion Chase.

Cheltenham, UK. 14th March 2017. Altior ridden by Nico de Boinville wins the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase Grade 1 at Cheltenham-Cheltenham-Racecourse/Great Britain. Credit: dpa picture alliance/Alamy Live News
Two-time winner Altior will not feature in this afternoon’s Champion Chase after scoping dirty last week

Harry Whittington is hopeful of a big race from Rouge Vif, while Sceau Royal could be an interesting each-way selection should the ground continue to dry up.

An absolute cracker lies in wait for racing fans.

BEST SELECTIONS:
politologue jumped his rivals into the ground in the 2020 champion chase [racing tv]

Read our preview for the other Grade One’s on day two of the Cheltenham Festival, the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

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