Champion Chase 2021 Tips – Runner-By-Runner Guide To Wednesday’s Big Race

A wonderful view of the final flight in the 2019 Champion Chase.

A wonderful view of the final flight in the 2019 Champion Chase.

2021 Cheltenham Festival –  Champion Chase Tips

One of Ireland’s bankers takes centre stage on Day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival as Chacun Pour Soi attempts to announce himself as one of the true greats. Daniel Overall has assessed the opposition to try to unearth if there is any ewuine on the planet who can beat him

Chacun Pour Soi

Talented but fragile, his late withdrawal last season as a result of an abscess on his foot was a blow to both racing fans and his connections. Thankfully, he’s stood his racing well this term, recording three wins from three starts, confirming that he is a top-class two-miler when fit and firing.

A superb jumper, there had been some concerns about his finishing efforts but he cast those doubts aside in the Dublin Chase, as he powered away from both Fakir D’oudairies and Notebook who set a decent gallop.

At this stage, he looks a class above the opposition but he does still have to prove his aptitude for Cheltenham as he has yet to run at the track. Wille Mullins is yet to win this race but he has a great chance of breaking his duck.

Cilaos Emery

Fourth in last season’s Champion Hurdle, Cilaos Emery has had an interesting career thus far; he’s been mixing chasing and hurdling since 2019 but as a result, he’s only had six starts over fences, winning four times. Perhaps mixing spheres hasn’t helped his jumping over the larger obstacles, which can lack fluency although he was better last time out; whether he’ll be able to replicate that in a bigger field where he is unable to dominate remains to be seen.

On ratings, he doesn’t have much to find but it still looks to be a tough ask against this field while this might come too soon having only raced seventeen days ago.

First Flow

Not flashy but his progression through the ranks has been remarkable. Yet to finish outside the front three over fences, he arrives here on a six-timer having recorded a career best effort when winning the Clarence House; a race that has provided six of the past ten winners of the Champion Chase (five won both).

His jumping hasn’t always been foot perfect, but he put it all together at Ascot when beating Politologue under an enterprising ride by David Bass.

However, his best form has come on soft/heavy ground which he is unlikely to get here while he has been primarily campaigned at right-handed tracks due to a tendency to hang out to his right, which was on full display when he pulled up in the 2018 Supreme. Kim Bailey has stated that he’s a more mature horse now and going to other way around and while it would still be a small concern, he’s in the form of his life and a bold run can’t be discounted.

Greanateen

His win in the Haldon Gold Cup had many thinking that last year’s Grand Annual fourth might develop into a bonified Champion Chase contender. However, he has not progressed as might’ve been expected although he did run a solid race behind his stablemate and reigning champion, Politologue on his penultimate start in the Tingle Creek.

Well beaten in the Game Spirit when last seen, he has plenty to find even on his best form while Paul Nicholls has alluded to the possibility of him needing further these days.

Notebook

Last year’s Arkle favourite has acquitted himself well in open company this term; winning the Grade 2 Poplar Square at Naas before finishing behind Chacun Pour Soi at Leopardstown on a couple of occasions.

Connections tried a couple of different tactics to upset Chacun Pour Soi but neither were successful and at this stage it may appear that they’re just facing a superior rival.

Furthermore, his two trips to Cheltenham have resulted in his two worst performances so there is no reason to expect him to reverse the form with the favourite, although the lack of a crowd may help him to settle as he can get quite worked up in the preliminaries.

Nube Negra

Always held in high regard, he was a useful novice chaser last term without being top-class but his sole run this term saw him take his form to the next level; he ran out an impressive winner of the Desert Orchid from a laboured Altior back in second. You can certainly argue that his rivals underperformed but there was a lot to like about the way he travelled through the race, while it is a positive that he’s been kept fresh for this given his good record after a break.

Previously he had not been thought strong enough to handle softer ground or Cheltenham, but Dan Skelton is convinced that he’s beyond those concerns now if that is true, he certainly has each-way claims as one of the least exposed runners in the line-up.

Politologue

Having finished fourth and second in the 2018 and 2019 renewals of the Champion Chase, the admirable grey managed to get his head in front last season on his third attempt in what was a below par renewal.

Despite having been on the scene for a few years, he looked as good as ever that day and he ran similarly well on his seasonal reappearance in the Tingle Creek. However, he was behind First Flow when last seen where he seemingly didn’t enjoy being taken on for the lead.

He is unlikely to get an easy lead this time around and at ten-years-old, it would be some feat if he was able to fend off some of his younger challengers. While he is vulnerable for win purposes, he is perfectly capable of finishing in the frame.

Rouge Vif

A good-ground specialist, he was an emphatic winner of a Cheltenham handicap earlier in the season off 156 before two disappointing runs in Graded company. However, he can be excused those runs given the ground would have been softer than ideal, while the Harry Whittington yard were not in good form around the time of his previous two runs.

Like Nube Negra, he goes well fresh so it’s a positive that he’s been kept off since December while the yard are in much better form now.

Third in last season’s Arkle, the ground was on the soft side for him that day and the going will have to be on the good side if he is to get competitive. If it is, he can outrun his odds although he will still need to improve if he is to challenge the best of these.

 

Sceau Royal

Another runner that relishes a sounder surface, he enjoyed a fruitful few months over hurdles earlier in the season; with wins coming in a good renewal of the Welsh Champion Hurdle and the Elite Hurdle before a couple of good efforts in defeat in deeper waters.

He reverted back to fences for the Desert Orchid but he fell at an early stage before reappearing in the Game Spirit where he beat the Gold Cup bound, Champ with Greaneteen a dozen lengths adrift in third.

While he has place prospects, he is 0/5 in open company Grade 1’s and at the age of nine, a win seems unlikely.

Put The Kettle On

Last season’s Arkle winner is a welcome addition to this race as it was thought that she may look to run in the soon-to-be inaugurated Mares’ Chase where she would certainly hold leading claims.

Connections should be applauded for daring to take their chance in the Champion Chase and considering the impressive record of Arkle winners in this race, she should not be dismissed.

Three-from-three at the track, the stiff finish clearly plays to her strength which isn’t surprising considering she has form over intermediate trips. She was well beaten by Chacun Pour Soi when last seen and while she lacks the raw of that rival, she is admirably tough and Cheltenham should bring the pair closer together; although it’s difficult to envisage her reversing the form entirely with the favourite. However, she should certainly run well and she appeals as a solid place prospect.

Champion Chase Big-Race Verdict

Chacun Pour Soi appears to be a class above the rest at present and he can give Willie Mullins his first win in the race. Put The Kettle On should stay on well up the hill and can hit the frame while Nube Negra retains plenty of potential over fences and he too can find himself in the places.