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Special Tiara capable of springing Queen Mother surprise

Irish trainer Henry De Bromhead has decided to allow Sizing Europe to take his chance in the Queen Mother Champion Chase following the defection of Sprinter Sacre, but it’s the former winners’ stable companion Special Tara who could be the surprise package in the race.

The seven-year-old needs good ground to be seen at his best, and showed what he is capable of when getting it at Aintree last year when winning the Grade 1 Magull Novices’ Chase.

He raced prominently that day and ran on strongly to beat Overturn by 1 3/4 lengths and had the current 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.

It was a solid effort considering he was giving the winner 5lb, and he finished just three lengths behind Sire De Grugy who although giving him 5lb was subjected to a much harder race,
All three will meet on level weights in the Queen Mother, and that form suggests that Special Tiara should not be as big as 25/1 given that Sir De Grugy is the 7/4 favourite and Kid Cassidy 12/1.

The key to Special Tiara’s chances is clearly the ground, and De Bromhead has looks to have given the horse a light campaign with that in mind.

He will certainly go the Festival fresh after not being kncoked about in his final prep run on heavy ground behind Arvika Legionnaire at Punchestown, and is still open to further improvement having only had eight starts over fences.

Given 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, he could well be each-way value in what is now a wide open renewal of the 2m contest.