Which elite competitor will emerge victorious in the Champion Chase?

Published 2021/01/15

Which elite competitor will emerge victorious in the Champion Chase?

Politologue capitalised on the absences of Altior and Chacun Pour Soi to claim the Queen Mother Champion Chase crown at Cheltenham Festival in 2020. However, both horses are poised to return in the event in the 2021 Festival, which should provide a mouth-watering showdown.

Chacun Pour Soi has the form in the 2020/21 National Hunt campaign and has been installed as the leading contender for the Champion Chase in the 2021 Cheltenham odds on Betfair Exchange, despite the past success of Altior and the impressive victory of Politologue last term. There should be little between the horses in the minds of the bookies before the action commences, and hopefully, on this occasion, all three are able to compete.

Altior and Chacun Pour Soi were withdrawn ahead of the contest last term due to injury concerns. The latter had reeled off an impressive win at the Dublin Chase ahead of the event, but an abscess ruled him out of the Champion Chase. The French thoroughbred has looked extremely impressive since his return to the track.

Willie Mullins allowed 10 months to pass before allowing his charge to make his comeback at the Hilly Way Chase at Cork. Chacun Pour Soi dominated the rest of the field to mark his return with an imperious win by 19 lengths. He continued his impressive form with another comfortable triumph at Leopardstown, finishing well ahead of Notebook in second place. Chacun Pour Soi will carry a three-race winning streak into the Champion Chase if he does not compete again before the main event. The nine-year-old will be a formidable opponent for both Altior and the defending champion Politologue.

Politologue put forward a strong outing in the 2019 Champion Chase, only to be beaten by the class of Altior down the stretch. He was then beaten twice by Defi Du Seuil at the Schloer Chase and the Tingle Creek Chase towards the end of 2019. Despite his mediocre form heading into the Champion Chase, Paul Nicholls’ charge rose to the occasion when it mattered the most at Cheltenham Festival.

Harry Skelton in the saddle aided Politologue to a flawless performance, defeating his nearest challenger Dynamite Dollars by nine-and-a-half lengths and his old foe Defi Du Seuil in the process. He maintained his form on his return to Sandown Park for the 2020 Tingle Creek Chase. The 10-year-old was the favourite for the contest, and duly delivered with a strong outing to claim the win. Politologue will not be willing to give up his crown lightly at the event.

Altior has enjoyed a legendary career, but time may be catching up with Nicky Henderson’s charge. Between October 2015 and November 2019, he reeled off 19 wins on the bounce, including two victories in the Champion Chase. However, he has since lost two of his last three races, suffering a defeat against Cyrname in the Christy 1965 Chase and Nube Negra at Kempton Park in the Desert Orchid Chase. The 11-year-old could roll back the years for one more time at Cheltenham, but for now, he is the outsider behind Chacun Pour Soi and Politologue for the crown.

The Champion Chase always boasts high-quality operators, but the 2021 race could be the best in terms of talent that it has ever seen. We should be well set for an outstanding contest between three elite competitors.