With only Leopardstown on Sunday to look forward to this weekend, I thought I’d have a quick look at the Champion Chase at Cheltenham.  It perplexes me that a lot of people seem very bored with this race, you hear a lot of commentary on this being a procession for Douvan, yawn, what a dull race.  For me this is by far the best race to be playing in antepost this season at Cheltenham, and in fact is the only race I have a meaningful position in at this stage.

Let’s start by highlighting the only reason for me to have an antepost bet namely what I am I getting NOW that won’t be available on the day.  For many the obvious angle in antepost betting is the bigger price angle, and sure there is the possibility of this, but you take the risk of getting a non- runner on the day as a result.  For me you need more than just the bigger price to be getting involved and the key here is the place terms offered on such bets.  Now this approach will not make you very popular with your bookie, but who wants to be in his good books anyway?!

The Champion Chase for me this season is the one of the best antepost markets I have seen for a long time.  At the time of writing there are 20 entries for the race, but by my research I think we are due a 5-7 runner field on the day.  Now you can currently bet antepost each way first 3 places, yet should this predicted small field arrive on the day you will only get 2 places….in other words you are likely getting something NOW that won’t be available on the day.  With the favourite being such a short price, this race becomes even more appealing as an antepost proposition.

The obvious place to start is with DOUVAN (180+), as the red hot favourite.  I’m not going to suggest he doesn’t win the race, but you never know in jump racing, and with the way the race is shaping up there is a prospect for some decent antepost value to be had in the place terms.  But let’s be clear in stating that he is a superstar and capable of registering stratospheric numbers on the clock.

FOX NORTON (168) is a best priced 10/1 NRNB, and he would be the usual first port of call when looking for an each way bet in this sort of race.  However, he sustained a bad cut at Cheltenham in November and ran poorly on his comeback run at Newbury.  Combine this with the fact he may go for the longer Ryanair and he can be passed over for what we are looking for here.

I believe that you should let Tom George firmly put you in the bookies bad books with his pair of entries, namely GOD’S OWN (170) and SIR VALENTINO (170).  Available at 20/1 and 40/1 respectively, the place parts of these bets makes massive appeal to me.  The rest of the potential runners are much of a muchness but God’s Own has a decent record here being 2nd in an Arkle and 4th in a stronger renewal last year…and he comes alive on better ground.  He is the most underrated horse in training in my opinion having won 3 Grade 1 chases and at the prices he can make the frame.

His stable companion Sir Valentino is another that many overlook but his form makes him of interest to me.  He won the Haldon Gold Cup on his comeback run this season before finishing a close up 5th in the Tingle Creek.  He then went down by ½ length to SPECIAL TIARA (164) (who had optimum conditions) but was giving the winner 6lbs that day, and clouted the second last.  His form when having a break on good ground reads two wins from two starts including that Haldon Gold Cup victory and he can well outrun his odds to be in the frame in this race.

The other runner of interest to me is THE GAME CHANGER (165) who is a wild price at 100/1 for a confirmed runner who likes good ground.  He was 4th in the Arkle last year but was hampered on the run in and would likely have made the frame otherwise.  He has then chased Douvan around a few times and then probably been a bit over raced since.  But he has now had a break not having run yet this calendar year he comes here a fresh horse….with not much between the rest of the runners the place part of 100/1 is very big.

Of the rest Garde La Victoire is of interest but I haven’t seen anything to suggest he goes and likewise the Gary Moore duo of Sire De Grugy and Traffic Fluide both may not show and wouldn’t appeal much to me anyway with the first on the downgrade and the latter being so fragile.

So we could easily end up with a 6 or 7 runner field and if that is the case we could have 3 horses running for us at massive prices to fill two of the places behind Douvan.  For me it really is a no brainer to bet like this in this race (depending on your attachment to your online accounts) considering the chances that we are only fighting with a few other runners for those two places.  On the day it is likely you’ll only get paid for finishing second to Douvan so this is a market to play in now.  If you can get on the without Douvan market is also of interest.

Conclusion – DOUVAN is the superstar in the field but the two Tom George runners are decent horses who can fill the frame behind him in a favourable antepost market.  With the Game Changer another worth throwing a few quid at to fill the frame.

  1. Douvan
  2. God’s Own
  3. Sir Valentino

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