The Champion Chase, the feature race on day two of the Cheltenham Festival is all about Altior who’s won his last 17 starts including this contest last season. Nicky Henderson’s stable star has been so bulletproof in recent seasons, all the superlatives to describe his achievements have been used. Altior’s Tingle Creek performance was particularly impressive where he easily brushed aside the classy Un De Sceaux.
It’s very difficult to look past Altior and barring an accident he should be making it 18 wins in a row and a 2nd Champion Chase. So we have picked the winner and now need to fill the places. The logical starting point is Min who filled the runner-up position behind Altior in last season renewal. Willie Mullins must be getting sick of seeing Altior as he’s inmate also chased him in the Supreme in 2017. Min has looked good in a brace of Grade 1’s this season and looks the most likely to follow Altior home if he lines up here rather than the Ryanair.
Willie could also be represented by Footpad and the aforementioned Un De Sceaux. I’d imagine the latter is more likely to run in the Ryanair Chase. Footpad has been very disappointing this season, falling when beaten behind Saint Calvados. Then coming up short against Simply Ned at Leopardstown over Christmas. As a novice, he’d looked like the second coming winning four Grade Ones. If Willie can work his magic, then Footpad could be the each-way bet in the race.
Champion Chase Outsiders
Of the others, Sceau Royal is another Grade 1 winning novice chaser from last season that’s found life tough this season. He was well beaten in the Tingle Creek behind Altior earlier in the season. Fox Norton has been placed on his only two festivals runs. That included a head defeat behind Special Tiara in the 2017 Champion Chase. I struggle to see him troubling the principals but could be a player for the place markets.