Speed, speed and more speed is what is required to win the QM Champion Chase. This is a race that really gets the crowd going and sets every racing fan across the globe into overdrive.
When you are watching the Queen Mother Champion Chase, it is staggering to see the speed at which the horses travel over what is classed as the most prestigious 2 mile chasing race across Europe.
The minimum distance for any chase race in Europe is 2 miles, so these are horses that have a serious turn of foot and the winner of the QM Champion Chase will undoubtedly be a speedy type and a quick jumper.
Entrants to the race over the years include household names and legends of the jumps racing world, so this is the cream of the 2-mile racing fraternity and often looked upon as the most exciting race of the Cheltenham Festival.
The field for the QM is never huge and the past 5 years have yielded an average of 10 runners. There are often some fallers along the way in the race, purely because when you have horses running 2 miles in around 4 minutes at up to 30 miles per hour, there is no room for error. All I can say is hats off to the jockeys, because this must be a seriously daunting task and one of the trickiest rides of the whole Cheltenham Festival.
The Champion Chase is without question one of the best betting contests of the festival. The bookmakers are often running scared before the race, as the serious punters come out to play and they end up with some huge liabilities. The really scary thing for the bookies is that the form stands up incredibly well and you are usually looking at a winner of the QM Champion Chase who goes to post at 5/1 or shorter.
The great news for us punters is that we can often identify a “good thing” for the race and we would hope to potentially find one of our bankers of the Cheltenham Festival in amongst the runners for the Champion Chase.
- The Queen Mother Champion Chase is classed as a Grade 1 National Hunt Chase.
- In recent years, the race has been contested at a start time of 15:20 on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival, which is a Wednesday.
- Horses entering the race must be 5 years of age or older. Mares also receive a 7lb allowance.
- The Queen Mother Champion Chase is run over a total distance of 2 miles.
- In 2011 the total purse for the race was £320k, with the winner pocketing a touch over £180k.
- There are a total of 12 fences for jockey and horse to navigate over the 2 miles.
- 16 out of the last 20 winners started the race at single figure betting odds.
- 12 out of the last 20 winners started the race at odds of 4/1 or shorter.
- In the past 20 years, 13 winners of the QM Champion Chase had previously tasted victory at the Cheltenham Festival before.
- 28 out of the last 30 winners had won over course and distance, or over a distance of 2 miles & 2 furlongs, or further.
- There has only been one winner aged 10 years old plus in the past 10 years.
- There has only been one 5 year-old winner in 51 renewals of the race.
- Paul Nicholls has saddled 3 winners in the past 10 years.
- Since 1999 Paul Nicholls has had nine horses either win or finish in the top three of the Champion Chase.
- Jessica Harrington has also won 2 renewals in the past 10 years.
- Arkle winners have an exceptional record when competing in the Queen Mother Champion Chase the next season, in-fact out of the last 13 horses to enter this category; all 13 have either placed or won the race the following year.
- 6 out of 13 Arkle winners have also gone on to triumph at the Champion Chase the following season.
- French bred horses have a strong record in the race, winning 5 out of the last 11 years.
- Over the past 10 years the lowest rated winner was the 2011 victor Sizing Europe with an OR of 160.
Betting on the Queen Mother Champion Chase
The Champion Chase is not only a great spectacle and favourite of The Cheltenham Festival faithful, it is also a hot to trot betting contest that deserves to be given some serious formbook study.
Generally speaking, you can expect a strong showing from the top of the betting market, so my recommendation would be to avoid horses starting the race at double figure betting odds. Note that 16 out of he last 20 winners have started the race at odds of less than 10/1, so this gives us a good starting point for our betting selections.
My betting tips for the Champion Chase will also be horses who have previously won over course and distance, or who have previously won at a minimum of 2 miles 2 furlongs or further. Those horses also entering the race having previously won at the festival before are a bonus and should seriously be considered for our shortlist of potential winners.
It is also important to consider the merits of any previous Arkle winners. The winner of the previous year’s Arkle must be respected, as the last 13 entrants to fit this criteria have at least all placed in the Queen Mother Champion Chase the following season. An amazing statistic really and one that is a very useful indicator to consider when betting on the race.
The fact that 6 of the last 13 Arkle winners have gone on to win the Champion Chase the following season, means that any horse fitting this criteria at odds of over even money must be seriously worth considering backing. My advice here would be to make sure you look out for any generously priced Arkle winners entering the race, as well as ensuring if you are taking on any horses that fit this criteria, that you have a very good reason to do so.
The age of our betting selection for the Queen Mother Champion Chase is a tough one to give rigid guidelines for, as winners over the past 30 years have varied from between 5 to 12 years of age! Playing the percentages, we can almost entirely rule out 5 year olds (only 1 win in 51 renewals) and also 11 & 12 year olds (3 winners in 51 renewals).
I would personally be looking at 8 or 9 year olds as preferential betting options; this is because horses within this age bracket have won 18 out of the past 30 renewals. You cannot categorically rule out horses of any age in this race, however the strength of performance of 8 or 9 year olds over the past 30 years means horses in this age range must be preferred to younger or older counterparts who have a similar profile.
In terms of assessing official ratings, I would advocate looking only at selections with an official rating of 160 or higher. Out of the previous 9 winners, 8 had a minimum official rating of at least 160.
Look out for horses saddled by either Paul Nicholls (3 winners in 10 years), or Jessica Harrington (2 winners in 10 years). If they are entering horses into the race that fit in with the additional betting criteria we have outlined, then these must go onto the shortlist for further consideration.
Good luck for the Queen Mother Champion Chase my merry punters, I hope you find a winner among the current crop of talented 2-mile chasers. Hopefully the betting advice above will make a difference to your P & L for the Festival!
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History of the race
The Queen Mother was a huge follower and supporter of National Hunt racing, to such an extent that she owned many successful horses throughout her life. The Queen Mother Champion Chase was named after Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth from the year 1980 onwards. The date is significant because it marked the Queen Mother’s 80th birthday anniversary and organisers of the Cheltenham Festival felt it a fitting tribute to run the race every year in her honour.
Over the course of her life, The Queen Mother was the owner of 500 winning horses and was a regular attendee of both the Cheltenham Festival and The Grand National. Her most notable victory was probably counted as The Whitbread Gold Cup in 1984, which was won by Special Cargo. Another horse owned by the Queen Mother, Game Spirit, finished runner up in The Champion Chase in 1976. Chasers owned by the Queen Mother were notable due to the blue striped silks worn by jockeys representing the former Queen of England.
Devon Loch was ridden by the widely recognised and sadly recently deceased Dick Francis. You may remember the footage of this horse nearing the winning line of the Grand National before remarkably and rather irrationally jumping into the air to land on its belly.
Devon Loch was unable to continue in the race after looking like a 1/100 shot to go on and win the Grand National back in 1956 and there are many rumours as to why the horse suddenly collapsed. Some people believe that the horse attempted to jump a shadow, whereas Dick Francis thought that the almighty cheer from the stands, due to the horse being royally owned and well backed to win, made him gift the race to the subsequent winner E.S.B.
Thankfully the horse was unhurt in the incident, however you can guarantee that The Queen Mother and anyone betting on Devon Loch were kicking themselves after the race.
The history of The Queen Mother Champion Chase dates back a significant amount of time before 1980, to the year of 1959, when the race was initially contested as The National Hunt Two-Mile Champion Chase.
Unlike many races at the Cheltenham Festival, the Champion Chase was not sponsored before 2007. Seasons Holidays sponsored from between 2008 to 2010 and in an interesting bit of recent news, the European bookmaker Sportingbet have reached an agreement to sponsor the race between 2011 to 2015.
Sportingbet are also a partner of our site and you can claim a free bet with them if you follow the link to our bookmaker bonuses section Sportingbet Review.