15.20 Cheltenham: Tiara look extra Special value in Queen Mother
The absence of the brilliant Sprinter Sacre has given the Queen Mother Champion Chase a really open look and outsider Special Tiara looks capable of springing a surprise now that the ground has come in his favour.
The gelding is one of two runners in the contest for Irish trainer Henry De Bromhead, with the other being the more fancied Sizing Europe, who won the contest back in 2011.
However, unlike his stable companion who has reached the peak of his powers at the age of 12, Special Tiara remains relatively lightly raced over fences and open to plenty of improvement.
The seven-year-old needs good ground to be seen at his best, as he showed at Aintree last year when winning the Grade 1 Maghull Novices’ Chase.
He raced prominently that day and ran on strongly to beat Overturn by 1 3/4 lengths and had the Queen Mother favourite Sire De Grugy a further 24 1/4 lengths behind in fourth.
Since then he has had his ground just once in four runs, and that saw him finish a highly creditable 6 1/4 lengths third behind Kid Cassidy and Sire De Grugy in the Shloer Chase over 2m at Cheltenham back in November.
He led until being headed two from home, and then kept on again after being outpaced by the front pair up the run-in without being unduly knocked about.
Given in the fact that the current score between him and Sire De Grugy is 1-1, and that rival has jumped below par and been beaten in his two runs at Cheltenham, Special Tiara looks excellent each-way value at the odds on offer.
On the form book, Sire De Grugy is the one they all have to beat.
Since being beaten at Cheltenham back in October by Kid Cassidy, Gary Moore’s eight-year-old has landed a hat-trick of impressive victories.
He cruised home by four lengths in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek at Sandown on the first of those, and was then ultra-impressive last time out when beating Hidden Cyclone by 11 lengths in a Grade 1 contest at Ascot.
However, he has been beaten on both his starts at Cheltenham and that has to be a major concern.
On both those occasions he has not jumped as well as he can, and it could well be that he is not ideally suited to the undulations of the track.