Timeform bring you their comprehensive runner-by-runner guide to Wednesday's Champion Chase on day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival, and pick out their 1-2-3...
"Arrives with a better preparation than last year and impossible to oppose in follow-up bid..."
Timeform on Altior
1. Altior (Nicky Henderson/Nico de Boinville)
Outstanding chaser who remains unbeaten over jumps, wins including this race (by seven lengths from Min) 12 months ago. At least as good as ever this season, winning Tingle Creek at Sandown, Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton and Clarence House at Ascot (by seven lengths) last time. Arrives with a better preparation than last year and impossible to oppose in follow-up bid.
2. Castlegrace Paddy (Pat Fahy/Davy Russell)
Successful three out of five starts over fences (very smart form), including Hilly Way Chase at Cork (by 16 lengths from Doctor Phoenix) in December. Fell heavily at the first in Dublin Chase won by Min at Leopardstown last time, but will appreciate recent rain that has fallen.
3. God's Own (Tom George/Paddy Brennan)
Admirable veteran who has ran creditably in this race the last three years, finishing respectable 18 lengths third to Altior in 2017/18. Proved at least as good as ever in both starts this season, winning Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter on return, but a place the best he can hope for once again.
4. Hell's Kitchen (Harry Fry/Barry Geraghty)
Big, well-made gelding who proved better than ever when winning 10-runner handicap at Ascot last time by two and a quarter lengths from Janika, pulling hard early but leading on bridle tenth and always holding on run-in. This demands more but plenty to like about that performance and well worth a try at this level.
5. Min (Willie Mullins/Ruby Walsh)
Top-class chaser who has been runner-up to Altior on both starts at the Festival, in Supreme Novices' Hurdle in 2017 and this race last season. Won two Grade 1s this term, latest in Dublin Chase at Leopardstown (by six lengths from Ordinary World), so folly to ignore his claims.
6. Ordinary World (Henry de Bromhead/Rachael Blackmore)
Sole win over fences came in maiden in 2016/1,7 but has ran consistently well in and around the top level since (travelled well for a long way in this last year). No match for Min last time, though.
7. Politologue (Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden)
High-class chaser who won Melling Chase at Aintree (by neck from Min) in late-2017/8 and 1965 Chase at Ascot (by half a length from Charbel) in November. Bit below best both starts since, 20 and a quarter lengths fourth to stable-companion Cyrname in Betfair Ascot Chase on latest start. Record at Cheltenham not great, but there's not much depth to this behind Altior and looks a lively place contender.
8. Saint Calvados (Harry Whittington/Gavin Sheehan)
Very smart novice in 2017/18 and made winning return in Poplar Square Chase at Naas (by four and a half lengths from Tycoon Prince, Footpad beaten when falling) in November. Below that form in Grade 1s behind Altior and Min since, though, and disappointing on sole start at this course.
9. Sceau Royal (Alan King/Daryl Jacob)
Won four times as a novice in 2017/18, but missed the Festival through injury. Won Shloer Chase over C&D on return in November and unsuited by heavy ground when disappointing in Tingle Creek next start. Shouldn't be judged too harshly on latest spin over hurdles, and a solid place contender here.
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Timeform's Champion Chase Analyst Verdict
Impossible to see past the outstanding ALTIOR who continues to carry all before him and can stretch his unbeaten record over jumps to 18. Last year's runner-up Min is the one most likely to follow him home again. God's Own, who has a decent record at this meeting, is as good as ever at the age of 11 and may prove best of the remainder.
Timeform's Champion Chase 1-2-3
3. God's Own