Un De Sceaux heads 23 entries for Queen Mother Champion Chase
David Metcalf | January 14, 2016
Un De Sceaux, 6/4 favourite with Coral, headlines 23 entries revealed today for the feature race on day two of the Cheltenham Festival, the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Trained by Willie Mullins, the prolific eight-year-old has topped the ante-post betting market since his impressive six length victory in the Arkle Trophy at The Festival last year.
A total of 11 winners of the Arkle Trophy have gone on to capture the Grade 1 Queen Mother Champion Chase, the most recent being Sprinter Sacre in 2013.
Dominant Un De Sceaux heads the betting
Un De Sceaux is unbeaten in 13 completed starts and the front-runner looked the winner when falling on his other two outings.
Mullins, Ireland’s champion Jump trainer, has also put forward Vautour – who also holds entries Cheltenham Gold Cup and Ryanair Chase – and produced the standout performance of The Festival in 2015 when running away with the 2m 4f JLT Novices’ Chase.
Champagne Fever (20/1), Felix Yonger, Twinlight, and Mozoltov have also been given entries by Mullins for the 2m showpiece event on Wednesday, March 16th.
Former champions to feature
Defending champion Dodging Bullets, an 8/1 chance with Coral, is one of three previous winners among the 2016 entries but has yet to run this season following a setback.
The 2014 winner Sire De Grugy (7/1) and runaway 2013 hero Sprinter Sacre (7/2 second-favourite) are also due to run again.
Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy fought out a thrilling finish to the Grade 2Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton Park on December 27th, with Sprinter Sacre coming out on top by 3/4 of a length.
The third home Vibrato Valtat (20/1) is also among the entries, but does have the option of going for the 2m 5f Ryanair Chase a day later.
Dan Downie, racing manager for owners Axom, said: “We have been pleased with Vibrato Valtat since Kempton and he will probably go to Ascot a week on Saturday for the Clarence House Chase.
“He ran well in the Tingle Creek but the ground was not as soft as we would have liked. He will always be up against over two miles if the ground is not soft enough because he is unable to show that turn of foot.
“The ground was a bit softer in the Desert Orchid and I thought it was right up there with his best performances. We will be hoping for more of the same at Ascot. He is in the Champion Chase and Ryanair but we are undecided about which we are going for yet. I suppose things like the ground will come in to it.
“We feel that two and a half miles or even further might be his trip ultimately. I remember when he won the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown, Noel Fehily got off and said he would get three miles. We haven’t gone that far yet but I would not rule it out in the future.”
Henry de Bromhead and Gordon Elliott have two entries apiece, bringing the total Irish-trained entries to 10.
De Bromhead has put in last year’s third Special Tiara (12/1), who was arguably an unlucky second to Sire De Grugy in the Tingle Creek Chase, and Grade 1 winner Sizing Granite (25/1), while Elliott relies on Bright New Dawn and Clarcam.
Other eye-catching entries include the evergreen 12-year-old Somersby who has finished second in the last two runnings of the race, and fragile performer Simonsig (20/1) who won the Arkle Trophy in 2013.