Cheltenham Champion Chase Preview

Champion Chase Market 

Now that the new year has finally arrived, the horse racing calendar will be heating up soon. That's especially true given that the Cheltenham Festival is just around the corner. Slated to take place March 11-14, the annual festival will once again represent some of the finest and most significant racing events in the UK, and it could very well set the tone for much of the season to follow.

One of the main events at Cheltenham that draws a good bit of attention each year is the Champion Chase, which this year will take place on March 12th, the second day of the festival. It's a two-mile Grade 1 race on Cheltenham's Old Course and part of the National Hunt steeplechasing circuit, and it has become one of the premier National Hunt events in the UK. This year, as always, the field is packed with some very impressive, seasoned horses.

On BetFair online, the early betting odds for this year's Champion Chase have already been released. This information gives us a great point of reference in figuring out the early betting favourites and tips. So here are a few words, as well as the early odds for the top-5 favourites.

1. Sprinter Sacre
Opening at odds of 20/21 to win the Champion Chase, Sprinter Sacre is a strong favourite. Even so, as of now it's not even a sure thing that the defending champion will race at Cheltenham. Trainer Nicky Henderson has been only cautiously optimistic regarding his star horse's return from time off due to an irregular heartbeat. Testing and medical reports have been positive, and if Sprinter Sacre runs, he'll be expected to win. Still, a return is not a sure thing.


2. Sire de Grugy
Sire de Grugy's odds of 6/1 are good for second best, and clearly he would become the favourite if Sprinter Sacre is ultimately held out. After winning at Tingle Creek in December (with Sprinter Sacre out), Sire de Grugy is making a real claim to the top spot in this field. 6/1 odds are pretty favourable if you're looking to bet on the event.

3. Cue Card
Cue Card was triumphant at the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham in 2013, and has become a very accomplished horse. Yet at this two-mile distance, should Sprinter Sacre race, odds of 12/1 seem about right.

4. Arvika Ligeonniere
Opening at 14/1, Arvika Ligeonniere is something of a long shot among the contenders. However, the horse, much like Cue Card, finished 2013 on a high note, and should not be overlooked at the Champion Chase.

5. Captain Conan
Odds of 26/1 set Captain Conan essentially on a lower tier than the top-four, as far as the oddsmakers are concerned, but he remains the horse with the 5th best odds to win. Once a bright star under Nicky Henderson as well, Captain Conan has little chance to prevail at Cheltenham. Not only that, but 26/1 is a bit long for most fans.

A fascinating contest it remains and it all revolves around the favourite Sprinter Sacre whether or not he will take his chance or not so at around the 6/1 mark Sire De Grugy looks the value bet each way at the current stage.