2019 Champion Chase Preview

The brilliant Altior will be looking to win at the Cheltenham Festival for the fourth year in a row

Will Reilly takes a stats-based look at Cheltenham’s Champion Chase

A stats-based preview of the Queen Mother Champion Chase, which will be run at the Cheltenham Festival on Wednesday March 13th, 2019

Given that he is such a short-priced favourite and rated seven-pounds or more superior to his rivals, Altior has to be given an excellent chance of repeating his win in last year’s race.

Furthermore, he will go into Cheltenham having won his last 17 races, having also won at the last three Festivals and is unbeaten in four runs at the track, he is hard to oppose based on what we know.

Check out our markets for the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival

All of this said, here are some stats:

In the last 30 stagings of the Champion Chase, there have been:

  • 13 winning favourites
  • Eight of these have come in the last 16 runnings
  • In eight of these, the favourite finished unplaced

 

Much has been made of Sandown’s Tingle Creek Chase as being a good guide to the winner of Champion Chase winner:

  • Eight of the last 16 Tingle Creek winners have gone on to land the Champion Chase in the same season as their Sandown victory
  • Nine of the last 15 winners took part in the Tingle Creek in the same season that they won the Champion Chase, so it is as an interesting stat.
  • This year’s Tingle Creek winner, and defending Champion Chase winner, is Altior, who is, as mentioned earlier, a red-hot favourite to repeat last year’s success in the race

Ireland has won six of the last 14 Champion Chases, having previously won it only once between 1988 and 2002 (Klairon Davis in 1996).

There are five dual winners in our sample – Barnbrook Again (1989-90), Viking Flagship (1994-95), Moscow Flyer (2003 and 2005), Master Minded (2008-09) and Sprinter Sacre (2013 and 2016).

There are two previous winners among this year’s entries – Altior and Un De Sceaux.

The breakdown of winning ages from the last 30 runnings:

  • Eight-year-olds, 11 wins
  • Nine-year-olds, six wins
  • Seven-year-olds, five wins
  • Ten-year-olds have, though, won two of the last three Champion Chases – Sprinter Sacre (2016) and Special Tiara (2017).
  • This means that 17 of the 30 winners were aged eight or nine.

Only five of the 30 winners were returned at double-figure prices, and only eight of them were returned at 5/1 or bigger.

These do, however, include four of the last nine – Big Zeb (10/1, 2010), Sizing Europe (10/1, 2011), Sprinter Sacre (5/1, 2016) and Special Tiara (11/1, 2017)

A total of 21 of the winners in our sample had previously won at Cheltenham, with nine of them being Arkle winners at the festival.

In fact, six of the last 15 winners had landed the Arkle in their novice season. Last year’s Arkle winner is Footpad.

From our sample, horses to have been beaten in the Arkle and then go on to win the Champion Chase the following season are Barnbrook Again (third in the 1988 Arkle), and Deep Sensation (fourth in the 1992 Arkle) and Dodging Bullets (4th in the 2014 Arkle).

Fox Norton was placed in the 2016 Arkle and could line up in the Champion Chase. Ordinary World finished third in the 2017 Arkle.

  • In each of the last six seasons, a horse priced at 16/1 or bigger has finished in the first three, with five of them carrying an SP of 20/1 or bigger.
  • The race’s second-favourite has finished runner-up in three of the last ten stagings of the race and the favourite has finished runner-up on two occasions.
  • In nine of the last ten years, the winning distance has been seven lengths or shorter; on the other occasion it was 19 lengths.

Verdict:

Altior is hard to oppose. His trainer, Nicky Henderson, will be looking for a sixth win in the race following Altior (last year), Sprinter Sacre (2013 and 2016), Finian’s Rainbow (2012) and Remittance Man (1992)

Nicky Henderson has high hopes of adding to his Queen Mother Champion Chase haul with Altior at the Cheltenham Festival

Working on the principle that a big-priced horse is likely to make the frame, Ordinary World, who is likely to be ridden for a place, a sporting option. He was 50/1 in the ante-post market at the time of writing.

However, there is also the risk that, come the day, there may be less than eight runners in the race, in which case, betting without Altior and Min might be the way to go

A winning distance of less than eight lengths might also be worth playing.



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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article