Champion Chase betting: Energumene faces six in title defence
The nine-year-old gave Willie Mullins the final piece of his Prestbury Park big-race puzzle last year when lighting up a miserable day two of the Festival and is the sole Closutton representative in this year’s edition.
Although following up last year’s Cheltenham success with impressive victories at both the Punchestown Festival and on his reappearance in the Hilly Way at Cork, he failed to fire when only third in the rearranged Clarence House Chase on Festival Trials Day.
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) March 16, 2022
Mullins identified a couple of reasons for the under-par performance in the aftermath of that contest and is hoping to see his charge correct the record.
“It was great to finally get a Champion Chase last year and I think in the Clarence House he just needed the run over those different style of fences,” said Mullins.
“Even though he’d schooled over them at home, sometimes a horse just needs to get out on the track and see the thing and I’m sure that experience will stand to him when it comes to jumping off in the Champion Chase.
“There’s no such thing as a slowly-run Champion Chase and I think that’s going to suit us. The Clarence House was a very tactical race and I think a few jockeys might change tactics the next day.”
That day it was the reopposing Editeur Du Gite and Alan King’s Edwardstone that fought out a thrilling finish, but Energumene’s jockey Paul Townend now knows exactly what is required to turn the tables.
“The Clarence House Chase was a big indicator for the Champion Chase,” he wrote in his Ladbrokes blog. “I think we very much underperformed on the day and I wasn’t happy from the time he turned at the top of the hill.
“I don’t think Editeur Du Gite will get it his own way in front here and I can see him getting taken on more on the other track at Cheltenham.
“I thought Edwardstone probably came out of the Clarence House Chase with the most credit even though he didn’t win. We learnt a lot from that race and we know what Energumene is capable of.”
Clarence House winner Editeur Du Gite is 9/2 to give Gary Moore his second win in the race and is a first Champion Chase ride for Niall Houlihan.
AN ABSOLUTE BELTER! 🤩
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) January 28, 2023
Editeur Du Gite’s victory was the second time this season he has caused an upset in a key Champion Chase trial, having also won the Desert Orchid Chase, and Moore sees no reason why the nine-year-old cannot play a leading role once again.
He said: “As long as he is as good as he was last time, that’s what he needs to be really.
“I see no reason why he can’t run like that again. I’m very happy with him, his preparation has gone well and it’s all systems go.”
Edwardstone may have lost out by the barest of margins on Trials Day, but still did enough for Coral to make last year’s Arkle hero their 6/4 favourite in the Queen Mother Champion Chase betting.
King is happy with where he has the favourite ahead of the main event, saying: “I would obviously have preferred to have won (on Trials day), but it wasn’t to be and Gary’s horse battled back well.
“I’m very happy where I have the horse and we can’t do any more our end. We’re in very good shape for Wednesday, we just hope to get a nice, clean run now and see what happens.”
Venetia Williams’ Funambule Sivola was eight and a half lengths behind Energumene 12 months ago and returns to Prestbury Park in decent order having bounced back to something near his best in the Game Spirit at Newbury.
Funambule Sivola records back-to-back wins in the Grade 2 @Betfair Exchange Game Spirit Chase, with the eight-year-old making virtually all and powering clear under the guidance of @charliedeutsch2 for trainer @VenetiaWRacing 👏 pic.twitter.com/g6xjB89x1N
— Newbury Racecourse (@NewburyRacing) February 11, 2023
Nube Negra won the Shloer Chase over course and distance in November, but was somewhat disappointing when second to Editeur Du Gite at Kempton in the Desert Orchid.
He has been freshened up by Dan Skelton ahead of another crack at the Champion Chase – attempting to go one better than his second to Put The Kettle On in 2021.
“Nube Negra goes very well fresh and is very good around the course,” said Skelton.
“Any dry days or hours would be appreciated. The day he beat Altior at Kempton it was officially described as soft, but we do know the better the ground, the more suitable it is for him. He’s very good at home and I couldn’t have him any better to be honest.”
Paul Nicholls’ Greaneteen was fourth in 2021 and is another returning to Champion Chase action having skipped the 2022 running, while the seven-strong field is rounded off by Irish raider Captain Guinness, who attempts to give Henry de Bromhead a fourth victory in the race.
Queen Mother Champion Chase betting odds
9/2 Editeur Du Gite
18/1 Greaneteen, Nube Negra
33/1 Funambule Sivola
40/1 Captain Guinness
All odds and market correct at date of publication