Reigning champion Energumene faces six rivals in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham on Wednesday.
Last year, the nine-year-old gave Willie Mullins the final piece of his Prestbury Park big race puzzle when he lit up the second day of the festival and is Clasutton’s only representative in the second day’s feature.
Despite following up last year’s Cheltenham success with impressive wins at both the Punchestown Festival and on his reappearance at Cork’s hilly track, he failed to fire when only third in the rearranged Clarence House Chase on the Festival Trials.
It was the opponent again that day Editeur Du Gite: and Alan King Edwardstone which fought to a thrilling finish but EnergyJockey Paul Townend now knows exactly what it takes to turn the tables.
“The Clarence House Chase was a big indicator for the Champion Chase,” he told Ladbrokes. “I think we executed too low that day and I wasn’t happy with the moment he turned at the top of the hill.
“I don’t think Edith Du Gite will get his own way here and I can see him being busier at the other track at Cheltenham.
“I thought Edwardstone probably got the most out of the Clarence House Chase even though he didn’t win.
“We learned a lot from that race and know what Energumene is capable of.”
Clarence House winner Ediur Du Geet will be looking to give Gary Moore his second race win and a first championship campaign for Niall Houlihan, while Edwardstone may have been narrowly beaten on Trials Day but still did enough for the race. bookies to make last year’s Arkle hero their favourite.
Venice Williams Funambule Sivola Eight-and-a-half lengths behind Energuman 12 months ago and returns to Prestbury Park in decent order, returning to one of his best in Game Spirit at Newbury.
Dan Skelton is likely to be under weather control Nube Negra but still declared his amiable nine-year-old, who missed the race last year when conditions turned on the second day of testing, but finished second in Put The Kettle On in 2021.
Paul Nicholls To the granite was fourth on that occasion and makes another return to Champion Chase action missing the 2022 run, while the seven-strong field is rounded out by the Irish forward. Captain Guinnesswho tries to give Henry de Bromhead a fourth victory in the race.