Queen Mother Champion Chase principals Energumene and Edwardstone primed for rearranged Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham

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The 2023 Cheltenham Festival runs from March 14 – 17. (Pic Dan Abraham-racingfotos.com courtesy of Cheltenham Racecourse).

THE top two in the betting for the Queen Mother Champion Chase clash at Cheltenham on Saturday when star chasers Energumene and Edwardstone contest the rearranged Albert Bartlett Clarence House Chase.

The race was re-opened after the cancellation of Ascot last Saturday and now features six entries: Energumene, Edwardstone, Amarillo Sky, Funambule Sivola, Sizing Pottsie and Editeur Du Gite.

Champion Chase favourite at 8-11 Energumene will be looking to build on his great record over fences in the Grade 1 extended eight-furlong contest where he faces Edwardstone who is second favourite at 9-4 for the feature race on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival in March.

The Willie Mullins-trained Energumene has won eight of nine starts over the larger obstacles; his sole defeat coming in this race last year when second to Shishkin. 

The 2022 Queen Mother Champion Chase winner won on his comeback at Cork in December and is reported to be in good order. 

Assistant trainer Patrick Mullins said (before the venue was re-arrange): “Energumene is in great form and has come out of Cork really well. Imran [Haider], who rides him out and looks after him, is delighted with him, so it is all systems go.

“It is shaping up to be a great race with Edwardstone in there as well. Edwardstone is last season’s Arkle winner and I was blown away by his performance in [winning] the Tingle Creek. It should be a proper race, just like last year.

“We had a good, hard race in defeat last year but it did not dent our chances in the Champion Chase and we are following the same route again this season.” 

Edwardstone was the standout performer in last season’s two-mile novice division, winning five consecutive races including the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival. 

The nine-year-old enhanced his reputation with an emphatic nine-length victory in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park in early December. At his most recent start he unseated his rider in the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton Park. 

Trainer Alan King said: “Edwardstone has been 100 per cent since Kempton. He was very fresh beforehand even though it was only three weeks between there and Sandown. You are trying to do enough without overdoing them, and he’s just charged into it slightly. 

“Normally, Tom [Cannon – jockey] and him get on so well, but it wasn’t to be that day. As you saw afterwards, he popped away and jumped around there loose very well. Let’s hope it was a one-off. He was A1 the following morning. He has had a couple of schools since and everyone is very happy with him. 

“We have always thought he is a horse that would get further if we wanted to and he was placed over hurdles at two and a half. I am not worried too much about the track. He is fairly adaptable and has won around all sorts of tracks really.”

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