Cheltenham - At The Races

15:30 Cheltenham 14 Mar 2018

Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) (5YO plus)

Winner £227,800 - 9 ran

4

1m 7f 199y

Soft (Heavy in places)

View Course Guide

Weighed In

Gary Nutting
by Gary Nutting

Published 31st January

I’m voting for the progressive candidate in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase with POLITOLOGUE preferred to previous Festival winners.

A bit of a firebrand in his younger days, Paul Nicholls’s grey has matured into a professional performer and not looked back since dropping down in trip over fences.

Unlucky to fall when looking the likely winner at Aintree last spring (stumbled badly on landing over the last), the 7yo has not put a foot wrong in three starts this season.

He could be called the winner from an early stage in the Haldon Gold Cup on his reappearance and took his form to championship level when repelling Fox Norton with a bit in hand despite a close finish to the Tingle Creek.

Politologue merely rubber-stamped his credentials with a comfortable victory in the Desert Orchid at Kempton over Christmas but as Nicholls said at the time it gives him breathing space for the perfect Cheltenham preparation.

A bit of a firebrand in his younger days, Paul Nicholls’s grey has matured into a professional performer and not looked back since dropping down in trip over fences.

The same cannot be said for hot favourite Altior, who has undergone a wind operation since his well-publicised breathing problems surfaced on the Lambourn gallops, resulting in his absence from the Tingle Creek.

Nicky Henderson is now playing catch-up with the 8yo, who for all the brilliance he’s shown in winning the Supreme, last year’s Arkle and a stack of other good races, must prove his wellbeing post-setback.

It’s a similar story with 2016 Arkle winner Douvan, who has not been sighted since his long odds-on demise in this race last year when finishing lame after some uncharacteristically awkward jumps.

If Willie Mullins’s 8yo and Altior do happen to return in peak form it promises to be some match-up, but Politologue has got the runs on the board this season and is open to further improvement.

Yorkhill, stablemate of Douvan, comfortably holds the selection on last year’s JLT Novices form but that was over 2m4f and Politologue has looked a different horse over shorter trips with the hood removed.

Seemingly a non-stayer over 3m in Leopardstown’s Christmas Chase (ultimately beaten a long way), Yorkhill holds entries in the Ryanair and Champion Hurdle as well as this.

Reigning champion Special Tiara (beat Fox Norton in a photo) was a 3-1 shot compared to 8-15 Politologue when they met at Kempton on level terms (fell too far out to know how he’d have fared) and aged 11 is probably vulnerable to younger improvers.

Gary's Recommended Bet (scale 1-5 points):

BETWAY QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE (Wednesday 14th March)

1pt win POLITOLOGUE (9/2 Boylesports OR 4/1 Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power (Non-Runner No Bet), 7/2 general with Non-Runner No Bet firms)

Gary provides regular ante-post updates on Twitter. His username is @horsetraderinfo

Previous Winners
Year Going Ran Winner Draw Age Weight OR Form Last run Trainer (Distance) Jockey SP Time
2017 Good to Soft 10 Special Tiara 10 11 10 - 23-6315 46 days H de Bromhead (110 miles) N Fehily 11/1 3:55.30
2016 Good 10 Sprinter Sacre 10 11 10 - P2P2-11 80 days N Henderson (51 miles) N De Boinville 5/1 3:49.10
2015 Good 9 Dodging Bullets 7 11 10 - 245-311 53 days P Nicholls (69 miles) S Twiston-Davies 9/2 3:53.30
2014 Good 11 Sire De Grugy 8 11 10 - 1-12111 53 days G L Moore (120 miles) Jamie Moore 11/4 3:48.90
2013 Good to Soft 7 Sprinter Sacre 7 11 10 - 1111-11 46 days N Henderson (51 miles) B J Geraghty 1/4 4:00.20
2012 Good 8 Finian's Rainbow 9 11 10 - 1121-12 53 days N Henderson (51 miles) B J Geraghty 4/1 3:52.10
2011 Good 11 Sizing Europe 9 11 10 - 113-223 45 days H de Bromhead (110 miles) A Lynch 10/1 3:54.90
2010 Good 9 Big Zeb 9 11 10 - F1-2141 45 days C A Murphy B J Geraghty 10/1 3:51.30
2009 Good to Soft 12 Master Minded 6 11 10 - 1112-11 53 days P Nicholls (69 miles) R Walsh 4/11 3:59.40
2008 Good to Soft 8 Master Minded 5 11 10 - 1F-2U11 33 days P Nicholls (69 miles) R Walsh 3/1 3:55.80