Katie Walsh: The Champion Chase could be the race of the season
The Betway ambassador previews Champion Chase day at the Cheltenham Festival 2022 and makes her picks for each race on the card.
Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase Day gets off to a flyer with the Ballymore.
You’d have to say that Sir Gerhard is certainly the class horse in the race. I’m a massive fan of his but he is short in the betting, so Three Stripe Life is a good each way alternative.
He finished second to Sir Gerhard at the Dublin Racing Festival, but that was over two miles and the extra five furlongs might end up being more in his favour than Sir Gerhard’s.
Bravemansgame is a super jumper of a fence. I love the way he’s gone about his business this season. He’s been campaigned superbly by Paul Nicholls and he’s the worthy favourite.
It’s hard to knock horses who just keep on winning, and he’s just done that all season. I’d love to see him win for Paul Nicholls and all roads would leading to next season’s King George at Kempton.
For me, The Shunter is a better horse over hurdles than over fences, despite the fact he sluiced up in the Plate last season. He’s clearly been mapped out for Cheltenham by his shrewd connections, so it’s no surprise to see him high up in the betting for this competitive handicap hurdle.
It’ll be some feat to win two different handicaps, one over fences and one over hurdles, in successive years, but he’s got the ability.
The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase looks set to be the race of the entire festival, perhaps even the entire season. It could end up being a classic that we talk about for years and years to come. I hope we haven’t over-hyped it, but the line up is stellar.
Shishkin is the best horse for me and will take all of the beating, but it’s going to be such a tactical race and one I can’t wait to watch. Paul Townend has chosen to ride Energumene, who ran his heart out at Ascot last month, while Patrick Mullins picks up an amazing spare on Chacun Pour Soi.
When you add in two previous winners, Nube Negra and Envoi Allen, you realise how lucky were to have this race. It’s going to be special.
We’ve mentioned warm receptions, but you’d have to argue that if Tiger Roll wins the Cross-Country, he’ll get the biggest cheer of them all. There’s every chance he’ll be retired in the very near future, so it could be his swan song and what a way it would be to go.
He bolted up in the race last year and Gordon seems very confident he’s in similar form this year. I wish them all the best of luck.
A Wave Of The Sea could be a little under the radar in the Grand Annual. He’s gone well on a few occasions this year and this race looks wide open, as it so often is.
The Champion Bumper is going to be another proper race. We could end up seeing some stars of the future in this.
The fact that Patrick has chosen to ride Facile Vega is another tick for the horse. I came away from the Dublin Racing Festival with this horse firmly in my mind as he was the most impressive winner there, so I won’t be turning my back on him now.
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