Cheltenham 2019: Queen Mother Champion Chase Odds and Betting Preview

cheltenhamDay Two’s feature race of the upcoming Cheltenham Festival is the Queen Mother Champion Chase – where the finest equine talents show their jumping skills over the minimum distance of two miles (3,219 meters).

Twelve fences will stand in the way of the contenders for this Grade 1 event and this race is regarded as the Blue Riband for the fastest Chasers on the planet. You can almost guarantee spills, thrills and excitement as this race is ridden at a gallop like no other and is a personal favourite of mine.

Looking at the history of the race, only Badsworth Boy has successfully won the Champion Chase on three occasions (1983-85) which only highlights how difficult it is to be consistent at the minimum distance over fences. Several others have claimed multiple victories in the event, with Moscow Flyer (2003, 2005), Master Minded (2008-09) and Sprinter Sacre (2013, 2016) being the most recent highlights. Last season’s winner, Special Tiara took the spoils in what can be deemed as a surprising result, and while the 11-year-old is likely to defend his crown, his chances look limited due to age.

The Nicky Henderson-trained Altior took the honours last season, and he is a very short price to repeat his victory of last year. Can he get the job done, or will there be a new champion? Read on for our thoughts in the big race on Day Two.

Festival Banker?

altior

Altior

Altior is likely to go down in history as one of the all-time greats. A winner of 18 consecutive races over hurdles and fences, it is little wonder why the nine-year old is prohibitive odds to claim his second Queen Mother Champion Chase.

The best price that is currently available on Altior is just 2/5. This price can be had with the majority of bookmakers, but for information purposes, some of these include Ladbrokes and William Hill.

So far this season, Altior has seen the racetrack on three occasions, at starting price odds of 8/13, 1/8 and 1/10. He has beaten almost all of the potential contenders for this race already – either this season, or in previous years, and is very difficult to oppose.

Nico de Boinville is expected to take the ride on Altior and the experienced pilot can add to his already impressive record of fifteen wins without defeat on the horse. Altior has the finest Festival form in the bag already by taking the Supreme Novices Hurdle in 2016 and followed it up last year by claiming the Arkle Novices Chase in 2017 before last years’ Queen Mother success. He looks to be a very solid favourite indeed.

Can Min get the win?

If in the unlikely event that Altior is to be defeated in this race, it is most probable that it will be a Willie Mullins’ horse that does it. Min took on Altior in last seasons’ Queen Mother Champion Chase and trailed in seven lengths behind the superstar.

Min can be backed at the top price of 11/2 with William Hill to reverse the form with Altior, but it is more likely the eight-year-old is playing for minor honours once again. Min was first seen out this season at Punchestown in claiming the Grade 1 John Durkan Chase over two and a half miles. Further success was gained in the Grade 1 Dublin Chase at Leopardstown in early February. In most years, this would be very exceptional form, but it still may not be enough to lower the colours of the odds-on favourite.

Footpad on Recovery Mission

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Footpad

Following that Arkle Novices Chase victory at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, the clamour to see Footpad take on Altior in 2019, would be one of this seasons’ festival highlights. Unfortunately for Footpad, this season has been desperately below par.

After jumping without the usual accuracy, we saw in his novice campaign, Footpad came to grief at the last fence in the Grade 3 Poplar Chase at Naas back in November. The seven-year-old was then seen at Leopardstown over the Christmas period, and was sent off as an even money favourite to claim the Grade 1 Sugar Paddy Chase. Jumping the final fence, Footpad looked to have the race in safe keeping, but was mowed down by veteran chaser, Simply Ned in the final strides.

Both efforts this season have not shown Footpad in his best light, and that reflects in his odds of 10/1 with William Hill to win the Champion Chase. It would be a huge training performance by even Willie Mullins to get Footpad back to his very best form. One key note of caution would be to see which horse – either Min or Footpad – Mullins’ first-string jockey Ruby Walsh decides to ride. It will likely show the pecking order within the stable.

Others to Consider

My personal view is that it is unlikely that the winner will not come from the three horses already mentioned, however, it is worth noting the chances of Sceaux Royal – trained by Alan King – as an each-way hope. At 16/1 with William Hill and 188BET, the seven-year-old had produced some his better performances at Cheltenham throughout his career, and he could make the first three.

After four wins this season, albeit at a lower level, the Phillip Kirby-trained Lady Buttons deserves a small mention, and the opportunity to perform in the Champion Chase. After two wins at Listed level, Lady Buttons took the Grade 2 Yorkshire Mares Hurdle at Doncaster in January. It is likely that Lady Buttons could well be rerouted to another race, but at 40/1 – once again with William Hill – provided the nine-year-old is given the opportunity, she could out run her big odds.

Conclusion

This race completely revolves around Altior. If he is in his best form, then he wins, it is simple as that. From a betting perspective, considering the horse has won 18 consecutive races, you could even argue that 2/5 is value here. Barring a fall, then he will win in my view.

As for the place money, it is obvious, but Min is very likely to chase home the favourite. At 11/2 with William Hill, he is a ‘bet to nothing’ each-way. An alternative to the each-way betting, bookmakers, RedZoneSports and Sport Pesa offer even money in the ‘without Altior’ market. So, if Min wins the race, or finishes in second behind the short-priced favourite, then you’re on to a winner.

Best Bets:

  • Altior to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase at 2/5 with Ladbrokes
  • Min Each-Way at 11/2 with William Hill.
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