Cheltenham Festival: Energumene and Edwardstone among nine in the running for Champion Chase | Race News
Defending champion Energumene heads nine confirmations for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham on Wednesday.
The nine-year-old from Willie Mullins claimed the top prize with a bloodless win on a wet second day of the Festival 12 months ago and followed that up with further easy triumphs at the Punchestown Festival and at his reappearance in Cork in December.
However, despite still contesting the favoritism for the second day feature, he returned to Prestbury Park with a point to prove he finished third when appearing on the track in the revamped Clarence House Chase Festival Trials Day.
It was Gary Moore’s Publisher Du Gite and last year’s Arkle hero Edwardstone who battled it out for a thrilling finish on this occasion, with the former doing almost everything to give Niall Houlihan a first success first year as a jockey.
Both are among the confirmations, with Alan King’s charge being the overall 7-4 favorite with the bookmakers to turn the tide.
As well as Energumene, Mullins could be represented by Blue Lord and Gentleman De Mee who both picked up the freshman over two miles this term.
Blue Lord hit Leopardstown in the Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase at Christmas to throw himself into the Champion Chase image, but was no match for his stablemate at the Dublin Racing Festival when Danny Mullins bounced off Gentleman De Mee and rode to a victory by seven lengths. .
It was the second time he had scored at freshman level after also winning Edwardstone’s scalp in the Maghull Novice Pursuit last April.
Tightrope walker Sivola chased home Energumene for silver 12 months ago and found form winning Game Spirit last month, while Nube Negra (Dan Skelton) and Greaneteen (Paul Nicholls) finished respectively second and fourth in the race behind Put The Kettle On in 2021 and will return for another crack in the race after missing out in 2022.
The list is completed by the Guinness captain of Henry de Bromhead with his stablemate Coeur Sublime and Tous Pour Soi de Mullins, the only two unconfirmed of the 11 remaining at the previous scratch stage.