Ahead of this year’s Champion Chase at Cheltenham, we turn our attention to two of the most talked about runners, Chacun Pour Soi and Altior, and take a look back at highlights from this illustrious race.
Established in 1959, the Champion Chase has been the scene of many exciting moments throughout Cheltenham history. This year sees legendary British-trained runner Altior’s return to the Champion Chase, after his 2019 visit saw him equal the world record by achieving 18 successive wins. However, the 11-year-old was ruled out of 2020’s Champion Chase, and there’s talk that his form is waning, while the Irish-trained Chacun Pour Soi is the odds-on favourite.
Can Altior win a third Champion Chase or will the Irish have another superb two-mile chaser on their hands? Let’s take a look at each contender in more detail, as well as the most memorable of their predecessors.
Chacun Pour Soi
Willie Mullins has high hopes for his nine-year-old in this year’s Champion Chase. Most recently in Dublin, Chacun Pour Soi triumphed in both his recent visits to Leopardstown. The Irish runner was victorious over Min in the Club Chase in October, bouncing back after a loss to A Plus Tard in the same race of the previous season. He then dominated in the Dublin Chase in February, cruising easily to beat Notebook and Fakir D’oudairies.
The Irish runner will be looking to capitalise on his recent victory in the Hilly Way Chase at Cork and continue his smooth run this March.
Altior’s career at Cheltenham stretches back to 2015 when he landed the Sharp Novices’ Hurdle; the following year he defeated periodic rival Min in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle by seven lengths, a feat he repeated in 2018’s Champion Chase. In 2019, Altior made it four consecutive Cheltenham victories when he beat Politologue.
Altior was on sparkling form and tipped to do well in 2020, but a slowed lame recovery meant that Nicky Henderson was forced to withdraw him from the Champion Chase. This year sees him return with renewed form, but can the British-trained runner reclaim the title over a fighting fit Chacun Pour Soi?
The Champion Chase has been the scene of many stand-out moments since its 1959 introduction – here are some Champion Chase highlights from its 60+ year history.
The only horse to have won the Champion Chase three times, Badsworth Boy achieved a hat-trick in the race in 1983, 1984 and 1985, each year trained by a different member of the Dickinson family. The poster boy of the Champion Chase, both Chacun Pour Soi and Altior will both be looking to emulate some of his success.
This youngster triumphed in the Champion Chase in 2008 when he beat the respected chaser and previous year’s victor Voy Por Ustedes. At just five-years-old, Master Minded remains the youngest ever jumper to win the Champion Chase, a feat he repeated the following year too.
The Irish runner achieved legendary status before passing away in 2016, achieving ten victories over fences in his career, two of which were at Cheltenham. He won the Champion Chase in 2003, fell despite a strong display in 2004, but bounced back to claim the title again in 2005 at 11-years-old – truly an iconic Irish racehorse that is still remembered fondly to this day.
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