Thursday 28 January 2021

New Queen Mother Champion Chase Contenders for 2021

The two-mile steeplechase division in British jumps horse racing has been dominated by Altior and a lesser extent Politologue in recent years, but neither are getting any younger. It may be time for new horses to emerge and grab the spotlight in the Queen Mother Champion Chase come the Cheltenham Festival. With that in mind, here are some of the contenders for this year’s big race. 

Chacun Pour Soi 

But for a last-minute injury that ruled him out of Cheltenham last year, Chacun Pour Soi would have been Champion Chase favourite despite the fact that trainer Willie Mullins hasn’t won the race just yet. If the Irish master handler can keep this horse fit and sound into the spring, then that is the prominent position he should occupy again. 

A three-time Grade 1 winner in the Emerald Isle, Chacun Pour Soi could improve on that record by making a successful defence of his Dublin Chase crown at Leopardstown en route to Cheltenham. He is very lightly-raced for a nine-year-old with just 10 career starts and six wins to date. 

The fact that Chacun Pour Soi is unraced in the UK and has no experience of Cheltenham are the only negatives. He looks a serious contender to established British rivals Politologue and Altior, who between them have won the last three renewals of the Champion Chase. 

Nube Negra

This might by a quiz question one day. After Cyrname, Dan Skelton’s Nube Negra became the second horse to beat Altior over obstacles with a sensational win in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton Park over the festive period. 

A rare Spanish-bred horse running in the National Hunt sphere, Nube Negra has never finished out of the first two in five chase starts. He was sent off favourite for the 2018 Fred Winter as a juvenile and ran third, but has clearly left that behind with massive improvement since switching to the larger obstacles. 

Despite being zero from three at the course over hurdles, Nube Negra is a different proposition as a steeplechaser. His sensational return to form over fences explains why he is among Cheltenham day two tips (ladies day), however, with the stable targeting more Festival runners. 

Put The Kettle On

If Nube Negra’s previous form at the track isn’t encouraging, then Henry De Bromhead mare Put The Kettle On could hardly have done better in that regard. She is three from three in graded races around Cheltenham. 

Those include a memorable triumph in the Arkle Challenge Trophy at last year’s Festival. Either side of that, Put The Kettle On won Grade 2 contests and then placed third at Leopardstown over Christmas. 

While that latest run leaves her with something to find on Chacun Pour Soi, regular jockey Aidan Coleman didn’t take the ride on her in Ireland and she has always put her best foot forward with him in the saddle. Put The Kettle On cannot be discounted on the back of one run which was not the original plan for her over the festive period that De Bromhead hand in mind.