Douvan will be odds-on to take the Champion Chase so Alan Thompson recommends playing in the markets without Willie Mullins' unbeaten chaser...
My strongest trends for this race are:
• 10 of the last 10 winners were Grade 1 winners
• Nine of the last 10 winners had 13 or fewer chase runs
• Nine of the last 10 winners had four or fewer runs that season
• Eight of the last 10 winners ran at last year's Festival
• Seven of the last 10 winners ran in either the Tingle Creek or Victor Chandler Chase that season
• Six of the above seven winners finished in the first two in one of those respective races
These trends leave just the two runners
• Un De Sceaux
• Sire De Grugy
With Douvan a red-hot favourite it's hard to know how to approach the race from an antepost point of view, especially if you like Un De Sceaux as he could well be pushed down the Ryanair or even Champion Hurdle route. Altior could well be coming to this race after his dominant performance in the Betfair Exchange Chase (formerly Game Spirit) at Newbury.
My approach will be to play in the betting without Douvan. Sire De Grugy did well to finish second in the Tingle Creek and that piece of form probably stacks up as the best on offer outside of the two Mullins runners. He may not be the force of old but he may not have to be given his form at the Festival and in general.
I was encouraged to hear that the weather forecast after this weekend is very, very good meaning the likelihood of good-to-soft (more on the good side) probably being likely come race time and that should help Sire De Grugy to get home up the hill.
This weather forecast has me thinking that the 4/1 about Sire De Grugy w/o Douvan is value, especially with Un De Sceaux more than 50/50 to head elsewhere and as such I'll be having a small bet.
1pt Back Sire De Grugy @ 4/1 in the w/o Douvan market
Check out more Cheltenham Festival 2017 ante-post previews and tips in our dedicated Cheltenham Festival section on betting.betfair.com