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Betway Champion Chase: The ultimate guide to the race of the Cheltenham Festival

11 Mar | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Betway Champion Chase: The ultimate guide to the race of the Cheltenham Festival

The Betway Champion Chase on Wednesday afternoon is set to be the race of this week’s Cheltenham Festival. We look through the leading protagonists then get some tips from our team.

Main contenders


Sprinter Sacre

One of the most popular horses in training, Sprinter Sacre won the Arkle in 2012 and followed up in consummate ease in the Champion Chase 12 months later. But he missed last season with a fibrillating heart condition – a problem that could have been career ending

Nicky Henderson’s star had a gentle comeback run at Ascot in January where he finished second to Dodging Bullets, having travelled strongly. His legion of fans will be expecting him to turn that form around at Cheltenham with a run under his belt.

There have been encouraging vibes emerging in the build up from his team, who believe he is back to somewhere near his best, so expect him to be very well-backed on the day.


Sire De Grugy

Last year’s champion, but another who has had an abortive season having missed much of the campaign with injury. He then fell on his comeback run behind Mr Mole in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury, but trainer Gary Moore took the brave decision to bring him out quickly at Chepstow just 14 days later. He justified the decision by winning well under top-weight in a handicap off a lofty mark of 172.

This performance catapulted Sire De Grugy back towards the front on the market and there’s a strong argument he should be favourite.

To make life even more interesting, Betway will refund all losing bets on the Betway Champion Chase if Sire Ge Grugy wins (T&C’s apply, see website for details).


Dodging Bullets

Dodging Bullets is the form horse this year, having won both the significant trails, the Tingle Creek at Sandown and Ascot’s Clarence House Chase. He travels like a dream, but has yet to be really be put to the test this season and has disappointed at the Festival before.

However, bred by no other than former champion flat jockey Frankie Dettori, Paul Nicholls’ charge has looked an improved runner and it would be no surprise where he to take glory under Sam Twiston-Davies.


Mr Mole

One of the biggest characters in racing, this enigmatic horse has been transformed under Paul Nicholls’ tutelage.  Last season his trainer said he didn’t like to be in front and was untrustworthy but he has thrived this season under more positive rides, winning four from four since falling in the Grand Annual at last year’s Festival and won the race that Sire De Grugy fell in on his comeback.

He fluffed his lines at the start, nearly refusing to race, before picking them up and winning with ease. Could be anything ability-wise, but could also throw the toys out at any given moment and is a risky proposition for bettors, even with AP McCoy aboard.



Betway Champion Chase team tips:


Pro Punter Tip: Angus Loughran

Sprinter Sacre

This is the race of the Festival for me, the one everyone wanted 12 months ago.  Although Sire De Gugy is defending champion, Sprinter Sacre showed enough on its comeback at Ascot when runner up to Dodging Bullets to suggest a return to his best is possible.

He will have come on for that run and is still the one the others all have to beat.

Betway Tip: Alan Alger, Betway spokesman

Sprinter Sacre

I think the Sprinter Sacre camp have been quietly confident after the comeback run at Ascot. We all know that on his day he should put these rivals to the sword, including last year’s champion. Even if Sprinter is slightly below his best he should still have a tremendous chance and he is the worthy favourite and my tip.



Most successful horse:

Badsworth Boy (3 Wins) – 1983, 1984, 1985

Most successful jockey:

Pat Taaffe (5 Wins) – Fortria (1960, 1961), Ben Stack (1964), Flyingbolt (1966), Straight Fort (1970)

Barry Geraghty (5 Wins) – Moscow Flyer (2003, 2005), Big Zeb (2010), Finian’s Rainbow (2012), Sprinter Sacre (2013

Most successful trainer:

Tom Dreaper (6 Wins) – Fortria (1960, 1961), Ben Stack (1964), Flyingbolt (1966), Muir (1969), Straight Fort (1970)

Most successful owner: George Ansley (3 Wins) – Fortria (1960, 1961), Straight Fort (1970)

Doug Armitage (3 Wins) – Badsworth Boy (1983, 1984, 1985)