Is Fox Norton a cunning bet in 2017 Queen Mother Champion Chase?
Fox Norton emerges as major contender in Queen Mother Champion Chase ante post tips
Fox Norton is now 7/1 second favourite with Coral for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival following a stunning success in the Shloer Chase, but does he have what it takes to lower the colours of red-hot ante-post favourite Douvan?
The six-year-old was put firmly in his place on two occasions by Irish ace Douvan last season, finishing 11 lengths behind Willie Mullins’ charge when third in the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival before occupying the same position when beaten 32 lengths in a Grade 1 at Aintree.
However, Fox Norton has looked a totally different proposition in winning both his starts this season and the gap between them on official ratings is closing fast.
After storming to an easy 11 length success in a hot handicap at Cheltenham when in the care of Neil Mulholland, the gelding posted a career-best performance in the Grade 2 Shloer on his first start for new handler Colin Tizzard after being bought by leading Irish owners Ann and Alan Potts.
Improving at a rate of knots
Fox Norton jumped for fun and travelled ominously well throughout in the hands of Aidan Coleman before taking up the running three from home and only having to be ridden out to score impressively by 11 lengths.
That success came off a rating of 161 and Fox Norton is sure to go up a few more pounds for it given the manner of the victory.
Having started off the season on a rating of 146 it shows how the son of Lando is improving at a rate of knots.
With Douvan currently rated 169 there is now not much between them and Fox Norton looks the type who should have even more to offer.
That of course, is also likely to be the case for the unbeaten Douvan, but the current 4/7 favourite with Coral for next year’s Queen Mother is yet to be seen in action this season.
He still needs to prove his well-being, whereas Fox Norton has and is clearly on an upward curve.
Number one contender for the home team
With trainer Nicky Henderson announcing on Sunday that his superstar Sprinter Sacre has been retried and will not therefore be defending his Queen Mother crown, Fox Norton is now undoubtedly the number one hope for the home team.
Providing he progresses as expected, I can see Fox Norton going off much shorter for the big race on Wednesday, March 15th.
So at the current odds on offer he looks a solid each-way bet, especially as Douvan is also likely to have entries in the Ryanair Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Even if Douvan does run in the Queen Mother they say you should never be scared of taking on one horse, especially at odds-on, and I am happy to do so with the the thriving Fox Norton.