Full trends preview and Champion Chase betting tips for the championship race on day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival 2014 at 3.20pm
The feature race on the 2nd day of the festival is the Queen Mother Champion Chase over 2m. The race usually produces some cracking renewals by the top chasers in training and, despite the defection of last year’s winner Sprinter Sacre, the race still boosts a solid field. Usually a race for the punters to get their money back on, I’ve prepared some trends to help give you an extra advantage.
10 out of the last 10 winners were French or Irish bred.
10 out of the last 10 winners had won a graded race over fences.
10 out of the last 10 winners had had a prep run between 17th January and 17th February.
10 out of the last 10 winners had won between 3 & 8 chase races in their career.
9 out of the last 10 winners were aged between 6 & 9.
9 out of the last 10 winners were sent off shorter than 10/1.
9 out of the last 10 winners had an official rating of 160 or higher.
9 out of the last 10 winners were placed in their last run.
8 out of the last 10 winners had won between 1 & 4 Grade 1 chases in their careers.
8 out of the last 10 winners were novices in the previous season.
8 out of the last 10 winners ran at the Festival the previous season with 6 of those winning.
Sire De Grugy (5/2 bet365) comes into the race after a fantastic season winning a trio of graded races and deserves to have his shot at glory here. The horse has been in fine form and coincidentally meets all of the trends on offer making him a worthy favourite. The only noteworthy blots in his impressive form book are the two defeats at Cheltenham from two attempts. He has been beaten by both Captain Conan and Kid Cassidy (who re-oppose here) and with the ground rapidly drying out conditions could well play into the hands of Sire De Grugy’s rivals.
The two aforementioned horses – Captain Conan and Kid Cassidy, are both trained by last year’s winning trainer Nicky Henderson and have leading chances in this race. CAPTAIN CONAN (5/1 Coral) has beaten the race favourite previously at Cheltenham and with the ground drying it should definitely aid his chances. He was however beaten by over 7 lengths on his only start of the season at Sandown by Sire De Grugy and will need to improve from that run to reverse the form. The horse also meets all the trends but hasn’t run since December 7th which is another negative.
Kid Cassidy (12/1 Stan James) on the other hand also beat Sire De Grugy at Cheltenham but was receiving 10lb and the form has taken a hit since. He also falls down on a lot of the trends and needs to improve to have a realistic chance. He’s a quirky character who will need a careful ride and others are readily preferred ahead of this horse.
There are five Irish raiders coming over to try and win the Champion Chase and two are trained by Henry De Bromhead in the shape of Sizing Europe (14/1 Betfred) and Special Tiara (20/1 Ladbrokes). Sizing Europe’s record in this race reads 1/2/2 and despite being a 12yo he should put in a bold show. The trends aren’t so favourable and recent form isn’t as good but, if the horse is sparked back to life by the Cheltenham course, then I wouldn’t rule out a surprise at a big price. Special Tiara hasn’t shown good enough form to be involved and needs to turn over a lot form to be competitive.
Baily Green (8/1 Coral) could trouble the judge if back to best form but this horse is another who’s recent form has not been very strong and at the moment is not good enough.
Arvika Ligeonniere (7/1 bet365) is another class act in the field and like Sire De Grugy, meets all of the trends on offer and has the form to become a champion here. The only negatives surrounding the horse would be that his form at Cheltenham is atrocious and that will have to improve when faced with this right-handed track.
Of the remaining horses, Wishfull Thinking (33/1 BetVictor) returned to form last time out but this is a much tougher test and he can hope for a place at most. Somersby (16/1 Betfred) is getting on a bit now and will need to improve to get another place finish in the race and Module (20/1 BetVictor) also lacks form at the very top level. Hinterland (11/1 Stan James) is a novice and novices don’t really have a good record in this race. Added to the fact that he has only two chase runs to his name and this looks a tough task.
In summary, the trends favour both Sire De Grugy and Arvika Ligeonniere but the Cheltenham form of the pair is discouraging. For me, if CAPTAIN CONAN arrives race fit (without having had a prep run) then he has every chance of winning this renewal and making sure the title returns to Seven Barrows once again. Sizing Europe will also give his best efforts and could be worth an e/w play.
CAPTAIN CONAN (WIN) (5/1 Coral)
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