The Queen Mother Champion Chase is the race of this year’s festival. Reigning champion Azertyuiop has never lost at Cheltenham, deposed king Moscow Flyer has never lost when completing a round of jumping and young pretender Well Chief has already won an Arkle over course and distance.
There are four days and 29 other fiercely competitive clashes at this year’s festival, but this is the match between the fastest chasers in the business over the minimum distance of two miles. There will be no tactics and no quarter given. Expect the pace to be exhilarating from the outset.
It is difficult to separate the big three in the betting. Azertyuiop is the best jumper and that will stand him in good stead. Moscow Flyer has the best form. But it might be that those two set the race up for Well Chief. He is the strongest finisher and something of a course specialist, his best race being a win in the Victor Chandler Chase in January. That day he ran off a handicap mark of 176 and gave weight and a beating to all-comers.
Earlier on the card, Trabolgan is a strong fancy in the Royal SunAlliance Novices’ Chase. This horse only needs to replicate his form at Kempton over Christmas, when a close second to Ollie Magern, to win this. Nicky Henderson’s yard has been under a cloud this season, but lightly raced The Bushkeeper can also win the Kim Muir to claim a notable festival double.
2:35 Trabolgan (win)
3:15 Well Chief (win)
4:40 The Bushkeeper (each-way)