Cheltenham Preview: Championship Chasers

March 9, 2018 News

WE have made it to the Saturday before the start of the Cheltenham Festival and excitement is reaching fever pitch as we prepare for four incredible days of racing.

Having looked at the novice chasers, the novice hurdlers and the championship hurdlers, our final Festival focus is on the championship chasers. We spoke to the connections of three leading contenders in the big contests to get the latest on their runners and their expectations.

Owner John Hales on Politologue


PRICE: 8-1

There are only a few days to go until Cheltenham. How are things with Politologue?

He’s good and I understand Paul [Nicholls] and the team are really happy with him. He’s very, very fit for the race and going there as well as he can be.

What are his main attributes?

His jumping ability, his speed and his jumping at speed. For a top two-miler the requirement is for them to be able to jump accurately at speed; they don’t all do that but he really does. He’s very accurate and very quick.

Who do you rate as his main dangers?

Altior and Douvan are the obvious ones to pick out. But realistically when you’re in a race like this they’re all a danger! This is the ultimate race at the ultimate meeting.

What would winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase again feel like?

It would just be fantastic. We’ve won the race twice before but this would be the strongest field we’ve met with one of our runners. It’s an ecstatic feeling and one that’s very hard to accurately describe. It’s just the most wonderful moment when your horse passes the finishing line first.

Co-owner Colm O’Connell on Un De Sceaux


PRICE: 13-8

How is Un De Sceaux as he prepares to come back and defend his title?

Everything seems fine with him. All the reports we’ve had have been positive and we’re looking forward to the race.

What do you think his main attribute is?

His constitution – he’s an iron horse. He goes out and he does it year in, year out and never misses a beat. He’s had tremendous longevity.

Who do you rate as his main dangers?

It’s Cheltenham so everything’s a danger. When we won the Arkle God’s Own finished second at 33-1 and came out of nowhere. Every horse that runs at Cheltenham is entitled to be there and as a result they are all very dangerous.

What would it feel like to win the Ryanair Chase for a second time?

It’s like getting six numbers up on the Lotto and then you do it again the following week and win again. Races at Cheltenham are so hard to win. In fact, winning any race with any horse is so difficult. To get a horse to Cheltenham with a chance of winning is an amazing thing so to win a race there you have to be the best of the best and be at your best on the day. You need so much in your favour, which is why winning feels so special.

Trainer Brian Ellison on Definitly Red


PRICE: 16-1

There has plenty of snow where you train recently. Has that caused any problems at all?

Everything’s spot on with him and the snow was no problem. He’s just where we want him to be.

What do you think his main attributes are?

He loves doing what he does and enjoys life. He enjoys going out, he enjoys his exercise and going to the races. He’s also a good jumper and he stays really well. He’s just a real nice horse to have around the place.

Who do you rate as his main dangers?

I don’t look at races like that. My job is to get him there as well as he can be and then what happens on the day happens. As long as he comes back alright that’s the main thing.

What would winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the biggest prize of all, feel like?

I’d be over the moon – it would be unbelievable. We’ve always thought he was a good horse but if you’d have said two years ago that he’d have a really good chance of winning the Gold Cup I’d have said that was unbelievable. If he can run a great race that would be fantastic for everyone.