Cheltenham is never short of a quality race or two. But this year’s Champion Chase looks the best of the lot, Defi Du Seuil and Chacun Pour Soi going head-to-head in the absence of Altior.
It’s the most competitive renewal of the 2m contest in a number of years. And we’re on hand to run the rule over the big two at the top of the market ahead of race-off next week at 15:30 on Wednesday 11th March.
Versatile, tough-as-teak and a winner; those are three big qualities. And guess what? Defi Du Seuil has them all as he bids to deliver a first ever Champion Chase for the green and gold silks of J.P. McManus.
The seven-year-old isn’t an especially glitzy type. But he has the gears to be able to repel a challenge or to quicken and steal a race, as he showed in both the Tingle Creek and the Clarence House in January.
You can question what he beat in those races, with the now-retired Un De Sceaux close up behind Defi each time. However, they’re both Grade 1 contests and cannot be dismissed lightly as below-par races.
He also has Festival form in the book too following wins in both the Triumph and the JLT. Bearing all of that in mind, in particular his tactical versatility, and he looks to have the best chance of the field to topple Altior.
Most people will point out that Willie Mullins has never won the Champion Chase. And while that’s true, the Closutton handler had never won the Gold Cup before Al Boum Photo scratched that itch 12 months ago.
Our biggest concern is that unlike his two market rivals, Chacun has never run in the UK, let alone at Cheltenham or the Festival. That could end up being significant, or it might not matter at all, we don’t know.
What we do know is that the eight-year-old is one hell of a horse. He has a huge engine, which he showed to excellent effect in the Dublin Chase, while he also has form with Defi from the Dublin Racing Festival.
It takes a classy operator to hold the Phillip Hobbs runner. Chacun did it and managed to power clear. With a strong pace likely in the race, there’s every chance he could put in a career best and claim a memorable win.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of date of publishing.