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Champion Chase Trends: Key stats for Wednesday’s Big Cheltenham Festival race

Energumene Champion Chase

Ahead of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival, we are looking into all of the key trends for the 18 contests run at Prestbury Park in March. This piece focuses on the Wednesday highlight, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, to give you any pointers for what promises to be a great England vs Ireland clash between El Fabiolo and Jonbon.

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Age

Though speed is of the essence, veterans have a much better record in the race than they do in the Gold Cup. As our trends piece on that race highlighted, no horse aged into double figures has won since Cool Dawn in 1998, but three of that category, Moscow Flyer (2005), Sprinter Sacre (2016) and Special Tiara (2017) have obliged, the first-named at the age of 11.

Ultimately though, the dominant generation is what you would expect. 14 of the last 20 winners have been aged between seven and nine, with only a brief era of young guns in Voy Por Estedes and Master Minded between 2007-2009 scoring at ages of six and below. Indeed, the last six winners have all been in that seven-nine bracket.

Age of Champion Chase Winners in Last 20 Years

  • 5 – 1 winner
  • 6 – 2 winners
  • 7 – 4 winners
  • 8 – 4 winners
  • 9 – 6 winners
  • 10+ – 3 winners
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Starting Price

Despite there being some strongly odds-on favourites in the race in the last 20 years, only seven market leaders have won in 20 years. Ultimately, you would be in a loss as a favourite backer in the Champion Chase, though there have also been 15/8, 5/2 and 3/1 SP winners who did not go off at the head of the betting. All told, half of the last 20 renewals have been won by horses at 3/1 or shorter.

On the other hand, while the likes of Master Minded, Sprinter Sacre and Altior won at prohibitive prices, the likes of Sizing Europe, Douvan and Shishkin have all been turned over at odds-on. Then again, even when the favourites fall short, don’t get your hopes up for a big outsider to spoil the party: the longest-priced winner was Newmill, with the other winners at double-figure prices only just reaching such a number at 10/1, 10/1 and 11/1.

Starting Price of Champion Chase Winners in Last 20 Years

  • 1/4 to Evens – 4 winners
  • 6/5 to 3/1 – 6 winners
  • 4/1 to 6/1 – 5 winners
  • 7/1-10/1 – 3 winners
  • 11/1+ – 2 winners
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Rating

Irish horses in the mid-noughties did not necessarily have an official rating prior to running at Cheltenham, hence Newmill and Moscow Flyer’s successes in 2005 and 2006 are excluded from the data. Those 18 that did have ratings combine to give an average requisite rating of 169. This is a true championship race.

The highest was Master Minded’s extraordinary mark of 186 before claiming his second Champion Chase at the age of just six in 2009. Sprinter Sacre, Altior and Energumene all boasted figures well into the 170s by the time of their peak triumphs, while at the other end of the spectrum, Put The Kettle On’s rating of 156 is the lowest. Adjusted for her 7lb mares’ allowance, however, she moves above Henry De Bromhead’s other pair of Special Tiara (159) and Sizing Europe (160).

Official Rating of Champion Chase Winners in Last 20 Years

  • <155 – 0 winners
  • 156-160 – 3 winners
  • 161-165 – 3 winners
  • 166-170 – 5 winners
  • 171-175 – 5 winners
  • 176+ – 2 winners
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