Home Business Insights & Advice Can Captain Guinness cause another upset in the Champion Chase?

Can Captain Guinness cause another upset in the Champion Chase?

by John Saunders
13th Mar 22 12:38 pm

The Cheltenham festival is just a fortnight away — oh how the time flies! As preparation for four days of action at Prestbury Park gets underway, trainers and jockeys will want to be at their most confident as fans head into the stands for the first time since 2020, and betting for Cheltenham will be interesting, with plenty of entertaining racesno more so than this year’s Champion Chase.

Last year saw Henry de Bromhead sweep up as far as Grade One races were concerned, with Put The Kettle On earning the Irishman a victory in the Champion Chase. However, 12 months on and plenty has changed, with several new challengers emerging to set up an exciting day two.

Not many would have foreseen many changes to the Champion Chase this close to the Festival, but the De Bromhead-trained seven-yearold saw his odds halved from 50/1 to 25/1 when he added a new dynamic to the Champion Chase by winning the Grade Three Chase at Naas — seeing off Willie Mullins duo Black Bow and Cashback in a closely run affair. Of course, winning on Irish soil is one thing, but to make the step up and win big at Cheltenham will be a whole different kettle of fish.

As expected, the majority of the talk surrounding the Champion Chase is around the highly anticipated rematch between Nicky Henderson-trained Shishkin and Energumene. The two come into Prestbury Park as clear favourites but are so evenly matched it will be tough to call, especially given their last run at Ascot.

Shishkin just pipped the Mullinstrained eight-year-old in the Grade One Clarence House Chase in a race for the ages, but it will be interesting to see if anyone can now use that hype to slip under the radar and pull off an unexpected victory when all the talk of Mullins and Henderson threatens to overshadow the rest of the competition.

Alongside Captain Guinness there’s Nube Negra who has certainly been underestimated thus far. While Dan Skelton has been realistic about the eight-year-old’s chances, a win in the Shloer Chase back in November and a good performance in last year’s race means victory is certainly not out of the question.

The most important thing with this horse is to have him super fresh. If you have him off the back of a run within a month, it’s too closeSkelton said. He puts so much into his runs and his jumping – he just empties the tank.

Despite so much competition, and so many individual battles to look out for on day two of the Festival, the unpredictability of Cheltenham means the form guide is less reliable than usual. That means the lukewarm form of Captain Guinness is less of a cause for concern ahead of the Champion Chase. Despite landing a victory at Naas, he struggled in a Dublin Chase dominated by Chacun Pour Soi and before that came up short at Sandown. However, with such a good jockey in Rachael Blackmore aboard, Captain Guinness could well pull off another coup come Cheltenham.

The Blackmore factor could well prove decisive. Last year’s leading jockey, the Irishwoman enjoyed a memorable four days, picking up six Cheltenham winners and she’ll be keen to add another in a bid to retain her individual crown. De Bromhead is the same, and as part of his stable consisting of several Grade One winners, Captain Guinness would do well to grab another victory for County Waterford. It will certainly be no easy feat, but even as early as day two at Cheltenham, anything is possible!

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