Last year’s race
- Winner: Altior
- Jockey: Nico de Boinville
- Trainer: N J Henderson
- Owner: Mrs Patricia Pugh
- Age: 8 Weight: 11st 10lb
- Starting Price: Evens
- Season Form Figures: 1
- Previous Best: 1st - bet365 Celebration Chase (Grade 1) (April 2017)
Only Badsworth Boy has won three Champion Chases but Altior will start at odds-on to become the twelfth dual winner. For the record, 12 of the last 18 odds-on favourites have been beaten in the Champion Chase but Altior’s turbo kicked in once he turned for home last season having hit a flat spot to beat Min by seven lengths as the Evens favourite.
The best guide from the current season over a long period of time has been the Tingle Creek in which Altior beat Un De Sceaux, Saint Calvados and Sceau Royal who got stuck in the mud as that Grade 1 race at Sandown has featured 11 of the last 18 winners.
In fact, three of the last six Tingle Creek winners went on to add win the Champion Chase having also collected the Clarence House Chase in between which was also won by Altior who jumped out to his left on occasions when beating Fox Norton by 7l, a margin of victory that very much flattered the runner-up. His jumping was described by Henderson as “no consequence whatsoever”, especially with the Champion Chase in mind which is of course the other way round, and something that he has done before on right-handed courses, though not to the same extent as at one fence in the back straight. Their feeling was that Altior wouldn’t have jumped left at all if he had taken a lead rather than made the running as he was just dossing in front. In victory he moved to within one win of 18 consecutive victories achieved by Big Buck’s.
In between Sandown and Ascot, Altior collected the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton with the minimum of fuss beating Diego Du Charmil and Special Tiara. Although it is only a Grade 2 race, six of the last 13 Champion Chase winners had also won the Desert Orchid Chase en route.
16 of the last 17 winners of the Arkle went on to finish in the first three in the following season’s Champion Chase of which as many as eight completed the double.
Footpad looks like being his main danger as the stats are very much in favour of last season’s Arkle winner as 16 of the last 17 winners of the 2m novices’ championship from the previous year went on to finish in the first three in the following season’s Champion Chase (Douvan being the other who returned injured), of which as many as eight completed the double. In addition, the Champion Chase has been a terrific race for the Irish since it was first run in 1959 winning on 22 occasions and it is also worth noting that on the last seven occasions when they have supplied the winner, they have also weighed in with the runner-up five times.
With 36 of the last 37 winners sent off at a SP of no bigger than 11/1 (and 16 of the last 19 could be found at no bigger than 5/1), this is not the race to go in search of that elusive big-priced winner. That’s some change around from when 14 consecutive favourites were beaten between Crisp (1971) right through to Badsworth Boy’s second victory in 1984.
If you believe that the 2017 champion, Special Tiara, can win a second Champion Chase crown at the age of 12, the age stats are against him as only Moscow Flyer has won aged over ten since 1977, only two horses have regained their title after losing it and the only 12-year-old winner in the race’s history was Skymas in 1977.
Other trends to bear in mind are that 12 of the last 16 winners won a graded chase last time out, only Master Minded of the last 17 winners entered the race having not already won a Grade 1 contest, 21 of the last 34 winners had won at the Cheltenham Festival before and 14 of the last 15 winners had run during the same calendar year.
At a glance summary
- Ran in the Tingle Creek
- A top-two finish in last season’s Arkle or Clarence House Chase
- Winner of the Desert Orchid Chase
- Successful at the Cheltenham Festival before
- To start no bigger than 5/1
- Failed to win a Grade 1 race
- Failed to win a graded chase last time out
- Aged 11+
- To start at 12/1+
- Not run during the same calendar year