Ruby’s Champion Chase pick
The Cheltenham Festival 2023 is edging ever closer and we’ve got jump jockey icon turned tactical guru Ruby Walsh and top pundit Rory Delargy with us every week to hopefully get you more bang for your buck.
The Champion Chase is the fourth race on Day 2 of this year’s Cheltenham Festival, and the lads have been looking at the markets to hopefully find you a winner as we pass the half-way mark.
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Ruby’s Champion Chase preview
There are probably question marks about last year’s winner Energumene now after a lack-lustre run in the Champion Chase. Obviously he jumped a bit high at the first and made a mistake at the last fence.
Niall Houlihan got away from the third last with a lead on Editeur Du Gite, started to quicken again and made Energumene and eventual runner-up Edwardstone chase him.
That contest was run on the New Course and he’ll go back to the Old Course for the Champion Chase, where he won last year. It will be a fascinating race tactically.
You know Editeur Du Gite will jump and go, so it’s a question of what does Tom Cannon do on Edwardstone? What does Paul Townend do on Energumene?
It’ll be a much different race. I could see Tom Cannon going back to riding Edwardstone like he rode him in last year’s Arkle rather than the way he’s ridden him twice this year. He dropped him in behind in the Tingle Creek, he dropped him in behind in the Clarence House but he rode him third or fourth just behind the pace in last year’s Arkle. I can see him reverting to those tactics.
That will mean Energumene could be behind him throughout the race and that makes it very interesting. To me, Edwardstone enhanced his reputation – despite getting narrowly beaten – on Trials Day at Cheltenham.
Reverting to the Old Course could see the front three home in January reverse places in March. Certainly Edwardstone could bridge the gap with Editeur Du Gite and so could Energumene.
The fitter they get, the lighter they get, the easier it is too to cope with drier ground so I could see Edwardstone coping with drier ground in the Spring where as he mightn’t do so early in the Winter months when he’s carrying a bit more condition.
Recent winner Gentleman De Mee is also entered and that will also change the shape of the race compared to the Clarence House Chase as he’ll push Editeur Du Gite for the lead. It won’t be as easy for Niall Houlihan to control and dictate the Champion Chase like he did the Clarence House Chase.
There’s a strong possibility that Energumene will be ridden the same way as he was last year. You’ll have Editeur Du Gite and Gentleman De Mee going forward from the start, and they may do things differently with Edwardstone too. Paul Townend on Energumene will be looking on at what’s happening with his main challengers all out in front of him.
Gentleman Dee Mee definitely has a chance. Danny Mullins gave him a terrific ride at the Dublin Racing Festival to win. He jumped brilliantly for him, seemed to bounce back from Christmas having run at Naas, then the Tingle Creek at Sandown in early December. Did that Christmas run just come too soon for him? He certainly looked much fresher, more exuberant, at the Dublin Racing Festival.
Blue Lord didn’t travel at the DRF like he did when winning at Christmas. You’re guessing with the two of them though at times. Can they put two good runs together? Will Blue Lord step up in trip or will he stay at the Champion Chase sistance? I don’t know the answer to that but from a race that had such a short-priced favourite prior to Christmas in Energumene, it’s now a fascinating. open contest.
Verdict: It’s not like me but I’m going to go against W P Mullins and side with Edwardstone to get the better of his rivals in Wednesday’s feature at Cheltenham.
Ruby’s Champion Chase Tip
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