Sprinter Sacre’s dominance of the 2m division means that entries for the Queen Mother Champion Chase are on the small side, but good prize money is still up for grabs for the places.
Therefore, trainers have a decision over what is more important, winning the most prize money possible or the satisfaction of having a Festival winner.
With horses likely to run scared of the Champion Chase, there is a chance that the contest will only have a handful of runners, which in turn makes finishing in the first three a realistic prospect.
Tom George is one such trainer that appears to be sniffing the place money and although Mail De Bievre is not one of the nine horses currently holding a Queen Mother entry, there is every possibility that he will be supplemented.
He led for a good 2m of the Denman Chase before fading three fences from home and George has interpreted this performance as that rather than a stamina test in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Mail De Bievre now needs the ultimate speed test.
This seems a major shift in race plan, but George believes that the horse can lay down a challenge over 2m.
He said: “I couldn’t get my head around the fact that the horse had so much speed at home. And he was only in second gear at Newbury.
“In the Champion Chase Paddy Brennan can let him go his own gallop and it will be a lot faster than it was at Newbury. He has a very high cruising speed.”
Mail De Bievre represents as good an each-way bet as anything at 16/1 for the Champion Chase and certainly has claims to finish in the first three.
The big key will be whether enough runners turn up on the start line to see the each-way places stretch to three finishers.
Of Sprinter Sacre’s main challengers, Flemenstar will miss the Festival and Simonsig is remaining in the novice ranks in the Arkle, while Sizing Europe and Cue Card are looking most likely to head to the Ryanair over 2m4f in search of a better chance of victory.
Meanwhile, although it is hard to foresee a horse finishing ahead of Sprinter Sacre, he could fall over, as Barry Geraghty knows too well having been unseated from Moscow Flyer when an odds-on Champion Chase favourite in 2004.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.