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Press Release 15th March 2023 Cheltenham


Wednesday 15th March

Energumene justified 6-5 favouritism to become the 13th dual winner of the two-mile Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase as he repeated his success of 2022.

Winning trainer Willie Mullins said: “Paul had a very positive frame of mind going out. He said he was going to jump off up there. He thought everyone was going to be very tight and he wanted to be away fast and that is the way the race worked out. He had it right and the horse loved the ground and jumping. He was just brilliant on the day and Paul was just brilliant on him. I was way more confident coming into this year’s race as we hadn’t got Shishkin to take on and we thought if there was any improvement from the Clarence House that with hopefully with a clear round he would win.

“Paul came home from the Clarence House and said they won’t beat us again. The horse’s work and jumping and everything has been brilliant. We were just fingers crossed for a clear round. It did (exceed my expectations how he did it). I was hoping to win but the way he did it was something else. It (did help coming here last times) as he just propped at the first one and that just upset him. This time around we schooled him hugely over white fences and it didn’t worry him today.

“We tried to make him a two and a half mile chaser but his jumping was so slick we decided to come back to two miles with him. It looks like he has improved from last year. What can I say, hopefully he will hold that form until next year. I’ll be praying for this sort of weather this time next year. The whole game plan will be to work back from this next year.”

Successful jockey Paul Townend said: “That was easy, to be honest. I got in a lovely rhythm on him, after the first two fences he was taking them on, he was quick at them, and it was simple - it was just a matter of keeping him in a rhythm after that.

“He allowed me to ride him more forward [than in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot] because he took on his fences better today. Looser ground  probably helped as well and played a factor in it, but he was just more forward. He felt a different horse today.

“He had a little reach at the fence three out, I think it was - those championship two-milers, they are supposed to be running like that, though. It was a dream ride and I was able to take it all in coming up the straight, which doesn’t usually happen in those championship races.”

Asked to compare yesterday’s Arkle Chase winner El Fabiolo and Energumene, Townend replied with a smile: “I’m not going to. I’m just going to enjoy the Champion Chaser at this moment in time.”

Henry de Bromhead, trainer of runner-up Captain Guinness (12-1), said: “I’m absolutely delighted. We came here hoping we’d hit the frame and we have. It was a brilliant run and he jumped great and the winner was just too good for us. The winner was so impressive but I’m delighted for the Landy family (Declan Landy, owner), they’re all here so they’ve had a great day out. Rachael just said he was deadly and did everything right for her. We were hoping to get place and we’ve done that. We’re really happy.”

Rachael Blackmore, Captain Guinness’ jockey, added: “He ran a super race, delighted. He is a great horse. He’s hitting the crossbar, but that’s a great result for him today.”

Paul Nicholls, trainer of the third-placed Greaneteen (25-1), said: “I’m thrilled with him. He was travelling beautifully until he made that mistake and I thought that was the end then, but Harry (Cobden) has just let him coast home. We’ve picked up 30 odd grand for our troubles and who knows we might’ve finished second if we hadn’t have had that error – though we wouldn’t have beaten the winner. He’s run very well today and we thought he might run a bit better than Newbury and now all roads will lead to Sandown now for him. That will be his race.”

Greaneteen’s jockey Harry Cobden said: “He was very lucky to get away with that error. It was a fair mistake at the ditch at the top of the hill so I just thought we’d regather and try and fill him back up and see if we can nick some place money. He’s done very well to get back into the race – I know the winner has absolutely scooted up – but he’s pinched £35,000 for finishing third and that’s much better than a P/U next to his name.

“I was going nicely (when he made the error), I definitely wasn’t going as well as Energumene. I think I might have troubled Rachael (Blackmore, on Captain Guinness) for second, but no complaints and we’ll go to Sandown now for the Celebration Chase. He loves that race and that will be his Champion Chase.”

Sean Houlihan, jockey of the fourth-placed Editeur Du Gite (13-2), said: “He ran his heart out, that ground probably wasn’t his best. The drizzle all day has just made it a bit soft and he was starting to feel it down the back straight. All credit to the horse.”

Alan King said of Edwardstone, who disappointed in fifth behind Energumene:" I have never been happier with him and he has never missed a day at home, but he was beaten after two fences and just never going at any stage of the race.

"I cannot blame the ground as he has won on it before - I  just don't know what it is, i am at a total loss. But something must be amiss and hopefully something will come to light."

Edwardstone’s jockey Tom Cannon said: “It wasn’t his day. Maybe the ground was a bit soft for him, but he just didn’t really fire at them today. He seems ok, but maybe just back to the drawing board and see where we go from there. He can always be a bit cold over his first couple of fences, so I wasn’t too worried early on, but he normally warms into the race well.

“When we jumped the ditches down the back I had to give him a squeeze at one and he made a real effort for me to get there, that’s a bit unlike him. I was holding on to nothing at the top of the hill and all credit to the horse that he actually took me into contention three out, as I was holding on to nothing.”

Harry Skelton, rider of Nube Negra (pulled-up) said: “He just struggled on the ground today, but there we go. The winner was very good.”

3.30pm Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) 2m

  1. Energumene 6/5F
  2. Captain Guinness 12/1
  3. Greaneteen 25/1


7 ran

Distances: 10, 24, ¾

Time: 3m 57.25s

26th winner at The Festival for jockey Paul Townend

92nd winner at The Festival for trainer Willie Mullins

4th winner at The Festival for owner Tony Bloom

Energumene becomes the 13th dual winner of the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase after Fortria (1960 and 1961), Drinny’s Double (1967 and 1968), Royal Relief (1972 and 1974), Skymas (1976 and 1977), Hilly Way (1978 and 1979), Pearlyman (1987 and 1988), Barnbrook Again (1989 and 1990), Viking Flagship (1994 and 1995), Moscow Flyer (2003 and 2005), Master Minded (2008 and 2009), Sprinter Sacre (2013 and 2016) and Altior (2018 and 2019). Badsworth Boy (1983, 1984, 1985) is the only three-time scorer.


Ireland 7 - Great Britain 4


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