Below is my Ante Post Preview for the 2018 Queen Mother Champion Chase. Since this site was launched in 2013, my daily tips package over the festival has had 5 winning years from 5, with a total profit of +320 points, for a remarkable ROI of +59.1%, so for my best bets everyday over the 2018 festival, make sure to sign up to my Cheltenham Tips 2018 email list.
Altior was unbeaten in five hurdles starts, including an impressive win in the Supreme in 2016, and is now seven from seven over fences, including last years Arkle at the festival. Having thrashed Fox Norton at Newbury prior to that Arkle win, Altior would surely have won last years Champion Chase had he ran, and Douvan still ran the same way he did, but connections decided to go for the easier option in the Arkle. The bare form of his six length win from Cloudy Dreams is nothing special, and would be below his other chase form. I’ve seen claims that Cheltenham doesn’t suit him based on that, but apart from the fact you should never come to such definite conclusions based on so little evidence, and he put up a spectacular performance when wining the Supreme over hurdles, the Arkle wasn’t run at an even pace, and Altior is a very strong stayer at two miles. He is more of a galloper and wouldn’t have an instant turn of foot off a slow pace, so it was understandable he took awhile to get fully on top, but he was very strong at the line, and had they gone quicker, he would likely have won by much further. The same people claiming Cheltenham doesn’t suit him, would then have been saying he’s better there than elsewhere, and the only difference would be the pace the others set.
Altior had a well publicized wind operation earlier this season, and while his recent comeback win at Newbury was very satisfactory, it was run at a slow pace. On one hand that wouldn’t have suited him, but equally it means his wind wasn’t really tested the way it might be in a more attritional race, and also once a horse has had wind issues, there is always a good chance they will come back at some stage. If they are indeed gone, or at least gone for the moment, than he looks a real top notcher and will take the world of beating.
It was likely Douvan’s presence in last years Champion Chase that meant Altior ducked that race for the easier Novice option, and you could understand why they wouldn’t be keen to take him on, as he had looked a real superstar both over hurdles, and throughout his novice chase career. Douvan won the Arkle in 2016, but he would have started hot favourite for the same years Champion Chase had he gone for it, and after three easy wins last season in the build up to the race he went off just 2/9 for last years race. He made uncharacteristic errors early, and was soon trading a good bit bigger in running, as he never went with his usual zest, and was beaten soon after the third last. He was reported to have a pelvic fracture, and hasn’t been seen since. Douvan was seemingly almost ready for a comeback earlier this season, before then being ruled out for the season, but is now back in the Cheltenham picture. While it’s great that he is now well enough to be on target for the race, it would be very optimistic to expect him to get back to the level he looked to be at going into last years race, although he really did look to be so good, that anywhere close to that, would still give him a solid chance of putting it up to Altior.
Min was a seven length second to Altior in the Supreme in 2016, and since then he has won four of his five chase starts. He missed Cheltenham after two novice chase wins last season, but looked as good as ever when easily winning a three runner affair at Gowran on his comeback. Min was disqualified after scrapping home at Leopardstown over Christmas so had a good bit to prove when lining up at the same track last time, but after travelling best, he went away on the run in for a twelve length win from Simply Ned. That winning margin was a good bit bigger than it would have been had Ordinary World not made a very bad mistake at the last, as he looked set to beat the eventual second by six or eight lengths at the time. Min still has scope to do better, although he will surely need to if either Altior or Douvan turn up at their best, but as already mentioned both Douvan and to a lesser extend, Altior, have a good bit to prove in that department.
Politologue was a decent novice chaser last season, and has improved this year, winning an Exeter handicap before the Tingle Creek at Sandown. He had little in hand of Fox Norton though, and his Kempton win after that only confirmed his well being really. Last time at Newbury he was readily outpointed by Altior, and while he could pick up the pieces if the three ahead of him in the market fail to fire, it’s hard to see him improving enough to give them much trouble if either Douvan or Altior is at their best, and he looks more exposed than Min too.
Special Tiara stepped up on his form in the build up to the race, when winning the Champion Chase last year, but with Douvan flopping it was a poor race, and while he may well bounce back to his best, in the Spring, on better ground, he is now eleven and even his best form won’t trouble the best of these if they arrive in top form.
Un De Sceaux would obviously have a chance if he was to turn up, but seems almost certain to go for the Ryanair, and nothing else appeals as a likely winner. A match between Altior and Douvan last year would have been mouthwatering, and while it is still an exciting prospect, it is a stretch to expect Douvan to be back at his very best after having so many issues, while Altior still needs to show his wind problems won’t resurface when he comes under pressure at the end of a decently run race. Min looks the solid one at this stage. The bookies non runner no bet prices are betting to such huge margins, if you found a rick someone should lose there job really, and I don’t see anything that would make me want to get involved at this stage, so the current recommendation is no bet.
If you want my Daily Best Bets for Cheltenham 2017, make sure you join my Cheltenham Tips 2018 Email List.