Cheltenham tips: Paddy’s pundits pick their Champion Chase best bets

We can't wait for round two of Shishkin v Energumene!

From the Horses Mouth Cheltenham Countdown

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The Cheltenham Festival is less than five weeks away, and our antepost podcast series is in full swing as Paddy’s roster of pundits bring you their early fancies for the meeting.


The From The Horse’s Mouth team have taken a close look at the feature race on day two of the meeting, the Champion Chase, with legendary jockey Ruby Walsh, our trader Frank Hickey and tipster Rory Delargy giving their thoughts.

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Ruby Walsh:

“Energumene seems in good form, he obviously hasn’t worked or anything since Ascot. We’re still five weeks from Cheltenham and Willie’s letting him freshen up before he tunes him up for Cheltenham.

“Chacun Pour Soi was very professional at the Dublin Racing Festival beating Dunvegan by 12l, which on ratings you would hope that would be there or thereabouts. I thought it was as strong as Chacun Pour Soi hit the line in a while. He was slowing down at Punchestown, I didn’t think he hit it that strong at Leopardstown last year whereas this year he did hit the line strong.

“Look, I don’t have a foot in the Willie Mullins camp, both feet are in it but I still can’t get away from Shishkin.

“I think Shishkin will beat Willie’s two – and it’s going to hurt whichever way it is.”

Frank Hickey:

“My initial reaction to the Clarence House Chase was that there is no way Energumene can reverse the form but I wouldn’t hold that view now. It will be difficult to reverse but it was 2m 1f at Ascot and the Champion Chase is actually just shy of 2m. A furlong out in the Clarence House, Energumene was probably still just in front.

“People crab Energumene for jumping right but if you watched that Ascot race and had never seen him before, you wouldn’t have thought there would be any issue with him running on a turning left handed track. It will be a difficult task to reverse but I think putting pressure on Shishkin’s jumping and perhaps trying to strike if/when he hits a flat spot is the key. If Shishkin is within three lengths jumping the last, you think he will win up the hill.

“In terms of runners who could make the pace to allow Energumene to save some energy, the likes of Politilogue, Put The Kettle On, Editeur Du Gite, Allmankind and Dunvegan (if they run here) all can force the pace, so there could be plenty of pace on depending on what horses take their chance. Chacun Pour Soi could also be put in that category.

“My 1-2-3 is: Shishkin, Energumene and Nube Negra.”



Rory Delargy:

“I know most people have decided Chacun Pour Soi can’t show his form away from home but that’s based on limited information. He looked the winner for a long way in last year’s renewal but I just don’t think he was as fast from the final fence as a couple of others. He’s very impressive when he’s allowed to stride on from a fair way out but when he’s asked to do it from the final fence he just seems a bit lacking. It wasn’t a bad enough run to think he can’t win a Champion Chase in different circumstances.

“I think Shishkin will win the race but his one weak spot is that he’s not always comfortable in a big field. He can hit a flat spot. If you watch the 2020 Supreme back he did lose his position coming down the hill and he did make one misjudged jump. When he got his momentum back he was strong. He could be vulnerable in a big field.

“For my 1-2-3 I would go Shishkin, Chacun and Energumene. Chacun doesn’t have to lead and we know Energumene is almost certainly going to go on. The way this race is run should bring out the best in Chacun. Whether his best is good enough to hold off Shishkin is another matter altogether but he does hold each-way appeal to me.”



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