UPDATE: The below preview was written last week but since then, Altior and Chacun Pour Soi were unfortunately pulled from the race, leaving Defi Du Seuil (2/5) as the clear favourite in the market. The field has now been reduced to just five runners and although the path looks clear for Defi to become the Champion Chaser, Paul Nicholls’ Dynamite Dollars has attracted some late interest in the market and looks likely to be the main rival to the red-hot favourite. Harry Cobden takes the ride as he switches from last year’s runner-up Politologue who will again feature in this race but will have Harry Skelton on board this time around and looks to have it all to do to repeat his effort in 2019.
Altior (2/1) and Defi Du Seuil (2/1) will battle it out for favouritism ahead of what should be a thrilling Champion Chase. Altior will be looking for historic back-to-back-to-back Champion Chase titles but his prep this year has been hampered to say the least. His unbeaten run was ended when stepping up in trip against Paul Nicholls’ Cyrname at Ascot and a spate of entries were left unfulfilled due to injury. A third Game Spirit Chase victory restored some faith that Henderson’s star chaser is still the one to beat and history awaits should he land a third Champion Chase and fifth Cheltenham victory.
Defi Du Seuil is the biggest danger to Altior with the Philip Hobbs runner set for a mouth-watering clash against his older rival. Defi has Cheltenham form, having won the Triumph and JLT previously. He’s currently three from three this season, having won the Tingle Creek and Clarence House Chase, beating Un De Sceaux in wonderful fashion in both. After a potential tilt at the Ryanair was shelved by Hobbs, all eyes will be on this clash and with Defi notoriously enjoying the softer ground, rain in the build-up to the meeting could mean he gets his favoured turf on day two.
Another horse that comes into the reckoning here is Chacun Pour Soi (11/4) and he is likely to run a big race if fit. He got the better of Defi Du Seuil at Punchestown last May, and aside from a minor setback in a thriller to A Plus Tard at the Rewards Club Chase at Leopardstown, he bounced back with a four-length success over Min in the Dublin Chase. Willie Mullins knows it will not be easy for his horse but will be quietly confident of springing an upset with Chacun demonstrating what a brilliant jumper he is.
Altior vs Defi Du Seuil vs Chacun Pour Soi going head-to-head in the showcase race on day two was set to be a tantalising prospect but Altior and Chacun Pour Soi have both had to pull out, clearing Defu Du Seuil’s path to the Champion Chase crown. With Altior’s bid to make history on hold for another year and the challenge of Chacun no longer there after he withdrew on the morning of the race and although he is very short odds to do so, Defi should have little trouble in winning this.