Sizing Europe will be defending his Champion Chase crown in 2012, and Big Zeb will be looking to emulate Moscow Flyer in regaining his 2010 title. Henry De Bromheads 10yo is arguably the best 2 mile chaser at the game at present, but the best don't always win races. Certainly the stats could be viewed as against his chance.
The "Irish" too, are defending this crown. In addition to the 1-2-3-4 they scored last year, have had 1-2's in four of the previous ten renewals but in 2012 will be relying on the big two to return the spoils. Master Minded defended his crown and won in consecutive years in 2008-2009, but he has been the only one to manage the feat from the past eleven defending Champions. Whilst Big Zeb would become only the third in the history of the race to regain the crown. Whilst these two head the markets, we have to scour down the book to find Noel Meades REAL DUBH, who's chance is reflected in his sizable price. He had an option for the Ryanair but this has turned out the preference.
The English Challenge is led by FINIANS RAINBOW from Nicky Henderson and KAUTO STONE from Paul Nichols. Outside of this pair, Somersby is entered but is going to the Ryanair Chase. Back to Kauto Stone and he was more than comfortably held by SIZING EUROPE when they met in the Tingle Creek at Sandown in December. He kept on well enough in that race and going into the Ascot Chase in February many thought he could improve again and pull him further into the mix for this race. As it was he was more disappointing and only the most speculative of punters will follow him for this.
FINIANS RAINBOW on the other hand can be a serious contender. The previous seasons Arkle is generally a pretty good guide to this race and with Captain Chris not in here, he represents the race this time round. Runner up behind the former last season, although 9yo, is only a second season chaser after making his bumper debut at 6 and is open to further improvement and what better place than to achieve that. He would have traded at huge prices at Kempton in December in the Desert Orchid Chase when putting his nose on the ground and dragging his hinds legs at four out and gave the advantage to Wishfull Thinking and Oiseau De Nuit, he fiddled the second last when still two and a half lengths down even before the last, many would have been trying to lay off any liabilities on him but he flew the final fence and picked the front pair up and even looked to win the race in what would have otherwise have been described as a well timed run. Barry Geraghty has to take much of the credit for staying in the saddle in what was one of my favourite finishes of the season thus far. When following up and finishing second to Somersby in the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot, one might consider the race came too soon and he just didn't find the finish to hold off the challenge. It represented further improvement, with Al Ferof a further 3 lengths down and Wishfull Thinking, this time 30+ lengths behind in 6th.
It pays not to look to far down the betting in this race. 29 of the last 30 winners were priced no bigger than 11/1, and 10 of the last 13 were 5/1 or shorter. FINIANS RAINBOW sits at a best priced 5/1 as I write and is taking as the opposition against the Irish pair. The price looks a bet to nothing for each way punters and that is the route I shall be taking. Whilst the stats on age are against Sizing Europe and Big Zeb the race could still look weaker if some of the opposition are diverted elsewhere and the place part of the bet is insurance against a stat busting result.
Queen Mother Champion Chase Bet:
FINIANS RAINBOW 1pt EW @ 5/1 generally available
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