Entries are unveiled today for another two G1 chases at The Festival™ presented by Magners – the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (day two, Wednesday, 17 March) and the Ryanair Chase (day three, Thursday, 18 March).
The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase is the championship contest for two-mile chasers and has attracted 31 entries, including previous winners Altior (Nicky Henderson), successful in 2018 and 2019, plus 2020 scorer Politologue (Paul Nicholls).
Politologue began his season with the fourth G1 success of his career in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park in December while Altior endured just his second defeat in 17 chase starts when runner-up to Nube Negra (Dan Skelton) in the G2 Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton Park on 27 December.
Trainer Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson are jointly the most successful trainers of all time in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, alongside the late Tom Dreaper, with six winners each. Henderson has also made an entry for G2 scorer Janika, while Nicholls’ other potential starters include Duc des Genievres, Greaneteen and Magic Saint.
Heading the market at 5/4 with sponsor Betway is Chacun Pour Soi (Willie Mullins), one of 14 Irish-trained entries. Nine-year-old Chacun Pour Soi has yet to start at Cheltenham, having missed this contest last season due to a last-minute injury. He has however looked imperious on his two starts so far this season, most recently cruising to victory in the G1 Paddy's Rewards Club Chase at Leopardstown on 27 December.
Third behind Chacun Pour Soi at Leopardstown was Put The Kettle On (Henry de Bromhead). The seven-year-old mare boasts a formidable record at Cheltenham, having won all three of her starts at the Home of Jump Racing. At The Festival™ in 2020, she landed the G1 Arkle Novices’ Chase and began the 2020/21 campaign with success in the G2 Shloer Chase at The November Meeting.
Another Irish entry to have already tasted success at Cheltenham this season is Chatham Street Lad (Michael Winters), who was most impressive when taking the G3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup by 15 lengths on December 12.
First Flow (Kim Bailey) has won six of his 10 starts over fences, including his last five starts. Most recently, he defied a big weight to capture the Castleford Handicap Chase at Wetherby on 27 December.
Gloucestershire-based Bailey is considering options for the nine-year-old and remarked: “First Flow is a horse that needs heavy ground, and he was very brave when winning at Wetherby over the Festive period.
“The Champion Chase is something we would think about, but the ground is going to be an important factor for him.
“He could run in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot later this month."
BETWAY QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE (Grade 1)
- Altior (IRE) 11 Mrs Patricia Pugh Nicky Henderson
- Battleoverdoyen (IRE) 8 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
- Bun Doran (IRE) 10 Crossed Fingers Partnership Tom George
- Cash Back (FR) 9 Watch This Space Syndicate W. P. Mullins IRE
- Chacun Pour Soi (FR) 9 Mrs S. Ricci W. P. Mullins IRE
- Chatham Street Lad (IRE) 9 Mr V. Healy Michael Winters IRE
- Cilaos Emery (FR) 9 Luke McMahon W. P. Mullins IRE
- Defi du Seuil (FR) 8 Mr John P. McManus Philip Hobbs
- Duc des Genievres (FR) 8 Sullivan Bloodstock Limited Paul Nicholls
- Esprit du Large (FR) 7 Mr & Mrs William Rucker Evan Williams
- Fakir d'Oudairies (FR) 6 Mr John P. McManus Joseph Patrick O'Brien IRE
- Fanion d'Estruval (FR) 6 Mr David Wilson Venetia Williams
- First Flow (IRE) 9 Mr A. N. Solomons Kim Bailey
- Greaneteen (FR) 7 Chris Giles Paul Nicholls
- Ibleo (FR) 8 The Bellamy Partnership Venetia Williams
- Impact Factor (IRE) 9 Robcour Mrs J. Harrington IRE
- Janika (FR) 8 Mr Simon Munir & Mr Isaac Souede Nicky Henderson
- Le Richebourg (FR) 8 Mr John P. McManus Joseph Patrick O'Brien IRE
- Magic Saint (FR) 7 Mr and Mrs J. D. Cotton Paul Nicholls
- Min (FR) 10 Mrs S. Ricci W. P. Mullins IRE
- Notebook (GER) 8 Gigginstown House Stud Henry de Bromhead IRE
- Nube Negra (SPA) 7 Mr T. Spraggett Dan Skelton
- Politologue (FR) 10 Mr J. Hales Paul Nicholls
- Put The Kettle On (IRE) 7 One For Luck Racing Syndicate Henry de Bromhead IRE
- Rouge Vif (FR) 7 Kate & Andrew Brooks Harry Whittington
- Samcro (IRE) 9 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
- Sceau Royal (FR) 9 Mr Simon Munir & Mr Isaac Souede Alan King
- Simply The Betts (IRE) 8 Kate & Andrew Brooks Harry Whittington
- Sizing Pottsie (FR) 7 Ann & Alan Potts Limited Mrs J. Harrington IRE
- Tornado Flyer (IRE) 8 T. F. P. W. P. Mullins IRE
- Waiting Patiently (IRE) 10 Mr Richard Collins Ruth Jefferson