The stars of the two-mile chasing division will go to war on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival for the prestigious Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Nicky Henderson 's superstar, Altior – ruled out of the race with injury last year – has the chance to prove he is still a force to be reckoned with by locking horns with last year's winner Politologue and Willie Mullins ' ever-improving Chacun Pour Soi.
The Grade 1 chase is contested by the quickest chasers in training and one mistake could cost a horse the race, emphasising the ability to be able to jump fluently at pace.
A string of exceptional horses have landed the race including the legendary Sprinter Sacre who completed one of the most extraordinary comebacks of all time – recovering from an irregular heartbeat to regain his title in 2016.
Here, we take a look at some of the main contenders for the standout race on the second day of the festival…
Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase odds
EVS Chacun Pour Soi
8-1 Nube Negra
12-1 Min, Put The Kettle On
14-1 First Flow
20-1 Sceau Royal, Cilaos Emery
25-1 Rouge Tif, Fakir D'oudairies
* 33-1 bar. Odds correct at time of publication
Who are the key contenders?
Chacun Pour Soi , a late withdrawal 12 months ago, has enjoyed a perfect campaign in the lead up to the race – destroying the field in his most recent outing at the Dublin Racing Festival.
Willie Mullins' star has taken his form up another notch this season, racking up a hat-trick with consummate ease and will hope to give Mullins his first ever win in the race.
The son of Policy Maker is now the complete racehorse, who travels, jumps and has the speed and overall class to score having dominated the two-mile chasing division in Ireland.
Altior was also a late absentee last year and has been seen only once since, finishing second to Nube Negra at Kempton's Christmas meeting – leaving him with questions to answer.
Nicky Henderson's superstar isn't seen very often these days and his withdrawal from the Tingle Creek Chase in December sparked much conversation about how, righty or wrongly, horses are campaigned solely with the Cheltenham Festival in mind these days – something that the British champion trainer wasn't going to apologise for when quizzed about his decision.
Despite being written off by many already, worth noting is that the 11-year-old is 4-4 at the Cheltenham Festival and 5-5 in the Cotswolds – and that is no easy feat.
Nube Negra was an outstanding winner in the Desert Orchid Chase where he slammed Altior and also had Duc Des Genievres and Rouge Vif well beaten.
His jumping was electric and bar a mistake at the last, he travelled like a dream. Interestingly, he might still be improving as he's only a seven-year-old.
In terms of Cheltenham form, he finished third in the 2018 Fred Winter where he hit the front turning into the straight, but was outstayed up the hill.
If the ground comes up good-to-soft or bordering on good, he should have a good chance of definitely hitting the frame. Maybe he’s the one to put it up to Chacun Pour Soi?
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Politologue , fourth in 2018 and runner-up in 2019, finally claimed the Champion Chase crown for Paul Nicholls in last year's renewal.
Winner of the Tingle Creek on his reappearance, he was seemingly beaten fair-and-square at Ascot last time, but he has one crucial edge over current market leader Chacun Pour Soi – and that is previous festival form.
The 10-year-old hails from a yard that has won the race on no fewer than six occasions, but he is a viable each-way alternative to the short-priced favourite Chacun Pour Soi. He couldn't do it again, could he?
First Flow, trained by Kim Bailey, will have a big part to play in this year's race – having just beat reigning champion Politologue by seven lengths in the Ascot Chase.
Previously considered to be a horse that was at his best on the slowest of going, he surprised Bailey with how well he ran at Ascot when the ground was on the drier side of slow.
Long-range weather forecasts appear to suggest the nine-year-old will be lucky to encounter soft ground in the Champion Chase with the first day of the meeting expected to be good to soft underfoot.
What are the quickest Champion Chase times?
These are the top three quickest run Champion Chase over the last 20 renewals:
2000 Edredon Bleu (3:44.70)
2014 Sire De Grugy (3:48.49)
2016 Sprinter Sacre (3:48.90)
Where have the winning runners come from?
Here are the countries where the winning trainers of the Queen Mother Champion Chase have been based:
GB 14 winners with an additional 24 placings from 132 runners
IRE 6 winners with an additional 13 placings from 53 runners
FR 0 winners with an additional 1 placing from 3 runners
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