Queen Mother Champion Chase Preview
The most talked about horse in the racing industry, ALTIOR. He is an absolute superstar and like so many I can’t wait to see him at the festival.
For 99.9% of people, he is the Cheltenham banker and rightly so. He has won 17 races in a row and is unbeaten over obstacles. The only time he has been beaten was back in 2015 in two bumpers. He is simply breathtaking and he does look unbeatable.
However, Cheltenham is Cheltenham and nothing is a certainty. You only have to go back two years and look at this very race, when Douvan was beaten at odds of 2/9. You would never have believed anyone if they said Douvan would be beaten but it does happen.
Do I think ALTIOR will win? Of course I do, I would be foolish if I said I didn’t think he will win, but he won’t have my money riding on him. Personally, I like the without markets at Cheltenham with odds on favourites, where you can bet horses ‘without’ certain horses like Altior. It has worked well for me over the years and only last year I was on Cap Soleil ‘without’ Laurina at 11/2. Laurina won by 19 lengths but Cap Soleil got up on the line to come home 2nd. I had an 11/2 winner rather than backing Laurina at 4/7. Obviously, it doesn’t always work out like that but I think you can find much better value.
Now back on to ALTIOR who I will be cheering on to put a breathtaking performance. It is what all us horse racing fans want and that is to see LEGENDS do what they should, hopefully, my ‘without bet’ will be coming home in 2nd.
Let’s look at the field and we will start with ALTIOR and give him the credit he deserves.
Note: odds correct at the time of publishing, 11:42 on 5th March 2019.
A machine, a superstar or whatever you want to call him. He won this race last season by seven lengths, and that was after he nearly missed the Cheltenham Festival. He was lame a week before the race with puss in his hoof, and it was touch and go whether he would make the race. Although he didn’t travel as strongly as he can, as soon as he hit the bottom of the hill he flew up it, and Min could not get near him. As mentioned above, he is unbeaten over hurdles and fences in 17 starts, and is just a few runs away from being a legend of the sport. He should, and probably will, win this race.
MIN 5/1 and FOOTPAD 7/1
Willie Mullins said last week that these two horses will be kept apart with one of them going for the Ryanair. The exchange suggests that Min will run in this race with Footpad going for the Ryanair, although nothing is confirmed yet. Owner of FOOTPAD, Simon Munir, already has Sceau Royal in this race for them I can’t see them throwing two horses at Altior and will want to keep them apart.
I will look at both horses and the chances though as it is not confirmed yet.
MIN was 2nd last season to Altior and was also 2nd to Altior in the Supreme Novice Hurdle back in 2016. I just can’t see how the form is turned around and they are brave to have another go. MIN did travel like the winner in the race last season but Altior just had different gears up the hill. I think the same will happen again to MIN if he is confirmed in this race. MIN has had two starts this season and has not done anything wrong. There is the possibility he has improved slightly but has it all to do if he is to come out the winner. Currently, around the evens mark in the without Altior market with Paddy Power offering Non-runner No Bet.
FOOTPAD was the Arkle winner last year and did it on the bridle. Last season he was five from five over fences as a Novice but this season has been beaten on both starts. He was travelling like a good thing last time out and looked a sure winner but emptied in the closing stages, and Simply Ned picked him up. He is still a very good horse and showed he can still travel but on that evidence, he would curl over in a battle with Altior up the hill. In his hurdling days, he always looked like a horse who wanted further and was often staying on at the end of races. I think he will go to the Ryanair and could be a much better horse over further.
There is not an awful lot left in the race who you could be confident about, but with the rain forecast over the next week, the going could be soft. We have 30mm of rain over the next week and if a bit more falls than is predicted, I think it is a good chance the going will be soft. Obviously, the rain has to get into the ground but there is a chance.
If it does come up soft then you would have to consider UN DE SCEAUX. He is not getting any younger but needs soft ground to be at his best. The deeper the better for him. I don’t think he quite gets home over 2m 5f on soft ground so I would not be surprised if he went for this race. He won the Arkle in 2015 (good ground), was 2nd to Sprinter Sacre in this race in 2016 (good ground), was a winner of the Ryanair Chase in 2017 (soft ground) and 2nd last year in the Ryanair Chase. His form at Cheltenham reads 12112 so he likes it around the course and got within four lengths of Altior when the pair met in the Tingle Creek, back in December. That is the only start UN DE SCEAUX has had all season, as the ground has virtually been good all season. He is an 11-year-old so not got improvement in him but he will be fresh given he has only run once this season. I don’t think he will have enough to beat Altior but he could be the forgotten horse. Let’s not forget he beat Douvan and Min in the Punchestown Champion Chase back in April, and gave Altior a good run for his money last time out.
I literally could not talk up any other horse in the race. For starters, a lot of the horses are uncertain to run or they are simply not good enough that I would want my money riding on them, even in the without Altior market.
If I was to have a bet today where would I go?
I can’t for the life of me see how Altior does not win this, so I will not be betting in a market where he is involved. Instead, I will be backing in the ‘betting without’ market. The price of evens does not appeal to me with Min and if I had to get involved at this stage it would be with UN DE SCEAUX in the ‘without Altior’ market. Paddy Power is offering non-runner no bet and have UN DE SCEAUX available at 9/2. If he does line up in the race, and that is a possibility with the rain we have forecast, that is a top class bet. Altior to one side he only has to finish 2nd for us to collect. Even if he did cause a shock and win the race we would still collect. If he does not end up running in this race then nothing is lost as money will be returned. The race is going to cut up and we will be lucky to eight line up. If he did go this race and we were sat on 9/2 for him to finish worst case 2nd, that would be a top-class bet.
UN DE SCEAUX 9/2 (without Altior) at Paddy Power (NRNB) – 1 PT WIN
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