A stats-based preview by Will Reilly of the Queen Mother Champion Chase, which will be run at the Cheltenham Festival on Wednesday March 17th, 2021, at 3:05pm.
Altior has won this race twice in the last three years (he never ran last year) but has only raced once since February 2020 (when he won the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury, a race he won in 2017 and 2018 ahead of Cheltenham glory the same year).
In finishing second at Kempton in December, he showed that he retains ability. The upside is that his trainer Nicky Henderson has won this race five times in the last nine years; a downside is that he is 11 years-old (see stats below).
Remarkably, he is unbeaten in five runs at Cheltenham, four of them in Festival races (the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2016, the Arkle Challenge Trophy in 2017 and the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2018 and 2019).
He has been a remarkable horse thus far and will retain his supporters at the Festival.
He will be wearing cheek-pieces for the first time in the Champion Chase.
Fate Of The Favourites
In the last 32 Champion Chases, there have been:
- 14 winning favourites
- 9 of these have come in the last 18 races
- There have been 4 winning favourites in the last 8 years
- Only one winner in the last 10 years has been returned at bigger than 6/1 (Special Tiara, 11/1, 2017)
Tingle Creek Chase
Much has been made of Sandown’s Tingle Creek Chase as being a good guide to the winner of the Champion Chase:
- Nine of the last 18 Tingle Creek winners have gone on to land the Champion Chase in the same season as their Sandown victory
- 11 of the last 17 Champion Chase 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 season’s Tingle Creek winner is Politologue, who finished fifth in the 2019 Tingle Creek but then won the Champion Chase at Cheltenham
Politologue winning the 2020 Queen Mother Champion Chase…
🐴 Politologue 🐴
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) January 1, 2021
- Ireland has won six of the last 16 Champion Chases, having previously won it only once between 1988 and 2002 (Klairon Davis in 1996).
- They have won it twice in the last 10 years, with both horses having been trained by Henry de Bromhead (Sizing Europe, 2011, and Special Tiara, 2017).
- This year, Henry runs last year’s ‘Arkle’ winner, Put The Kettle On, and Notebook
- Of course, Ireland has this year’s strong favourite, Chacun Pour Soi. He is trained by Willie Mullins, who has yet to win the race.
Chacun Pour Soi winning the Dublin Chase in February at the Dublin Racing Festival…
— RTÉ Racing (@RTEracing) February 6, 2021
There are six dual winners in our sample (it’s a strong recent stat; Politologue won last year):
Barnbrook Again (1989-90)
Viking Flagship (1994-95)
Moscow Flyer (2003 and 2005)
Master Minded (2008-09)
Sprinter Sacre (2013 and 2016)
Altior’s trainer, Nicky Henderson, has won the Champion Chase six times, including five of the last nine.
We will be BOOSTING THE PRICE of the FAVOURITE on the LIVE SHOWS in EVERY RACE at the CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL…
Age, Price, Winning Distance and other stats
The breakdown of winning ages from the last 32 Champion Chases:
- Eight year-olds – 11 wins
- Nine year-olds – eight wins
- Seven year-olds – five wins
- Ten year-olds – four wins, although they have won two of the last five (Sprinter Sacre, 2016 and Special Tiara, 2017)
- 11 year-olds, once (Moscow Flyer, 2005)
- This means that 19 of the 32 winners were aged eight or nine.
Only five of the 32 winners were returned at double-figure prices, and only nine of them were returned at 5/1 or bigger.
These do, however, include five of the last eleven – Big Zeb (10/1, 2010), Sizing Europe (10/1, 2011), Sprinter Sacre (5/1, 2016), Special Tiara (11/1, 2017) and Politologue (6/1, 2020).
A total of 22 of the winners in our sample had previously won at Cheltenham, with nine of them being Arkle winners at the Festival.
In fact, seven of the last 17 winners had landed the Arkle in their novice season. Last year’s Arkle winner is Put The Kettle On.
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)
Deep Sensation (fourth in the 1992 Arkle)
Dodging Bullets (4th in the 2014 Arkle)
- In each of the last eight seasons, a horse priced at 16/1 or bigger has finished in the first three, with six of them having an SP of 20/1 or bigger.
- In ten of the last 12 years, the winning distance has been seven lengths or shorter; on the other occasions it was 19 lengths (Master Minded in 2008) and 9.5 lengths (Politologue, 2020).
Altior ‘s age counts against him, while supporters of Chacun Pour Soi need to bear in mind that this is one of the very few big races that Ireland’s champion trainer Willie Mullins has yet to win, even though Chacun Pour Soi falls into the right age bracket.
Therefore, as this is a stats-based piece, I will take on Chacun Pour Soi and Altior and lean more towards First Flow (owing to his age, although he was pulled up on his run so far at Cheltenham).
Last year’s ‘Arkle’ winner, Put The Kettle On, can compete for places, although their age counts against them (in relation to stats) in terms of winning.
This said, Put The Kettle On’s record over fences is 11121113 – and she is unbeaten in three runs at Cheltenham – so she can run well, even though her age (7) counts against her on the stats in terms of winning.
Up until last year’s Champion Chase, Politologue hadn’t won at Cheltenham in six tries.
- A winning distance of seven lengths or less would also be worth playing if you can get a price on that, which seems unlikely
- Getting a price on a specific horse to win by seven lengths or less might be a better way to go
- Following his career-best Ascot win, First Flow may prove best of the British
- Put The Kettle On would be the each-way fancy to run well at a bigger price
We have been NON RUNNER / CASH BACK on EVERY RACE at the 2021 CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL since JANUARY 6TH…