Timeform bring you their runner-by-runner guide to the Grade 1 Champion Chase on Wednesday...
"The outstanding DOUVAN is the best National Hunt horse in training and, barring an unlikely mishap (he's a magnificent jumper), will surely land a third Festival success..."
Wednesday 15th March, 15:30
1. DOUVAN (Willie Mullins/Ruby Walsh)
Has won all 14 starts since being beaten on his debut in France in mid-2014, including the Arkle last year and races at Cork, Leopardstown (beat Sizing John in Grade 1) and Punchestown (beat Realt Mor) this season. Already the best jumper in training and probably has even more to offer. The one they all have to beat.
2. FOX NORTON (Colin Tizzard/Aidan Coleman)
Smart novice last season (third in Arkle) and has improved again this term, winning handicap (final run for Neil Mulholland) and Grade 2 (by nine lengths), both here, before facing a stiff task trying to concede 5 lb to Altior in Betfair Exchange Chase last time (13 lengths second).
3. GARDE LA VICTOIRE (Philip Hobbs/Richard Johnson)
Landed the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las on return and went close in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter next time. Back over hurdles at Ascot later in November and returned to winning ways in handicap chase at Sandown last time. Will give it another good go, but likely to come up short.
4. GOD'S OWN (Tom George/Adrian Heskin)
Landed Grade 1s at Aintree and Punchestown (beat Vautour) last spring. Solid return when second in Old Roan at Aintree and seemingly just stretched by 21f in Ascot Grade 2 next time. Creditable one and a quarter lengths third to Un de Sceaux in Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown last time and place claims again.
5. SIMPLY NED (Nicky Richards/Brian Harding)
Ran creditably in first two starts this season, including when nine lengths second to Fox Norton in Shloer Chase at Cheltenham. Below that form when third to Douvan (beaten 15 lengths) in Leopardstown Grade 1 last time, though, and will do well to improve on fifth in this race in 2015.
6. SIR VALENTINO (Tom George/Paddy Brennan)
Much improved this season, returning from a break to land Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter last month and, after finishing fifth in the Tingle Creek, beaten half a length when trying to 6 lb to Special Tiara in the Desert Orchid. More clearly needed against the pick of these, though.
7. SIZING GRANITE (Colin Tizzard/Tom O'Brien)
Very smart novice in 2014/15, but below form for the most part since and little encouragement to be taken from two starts for this yard. Fifth in Taunton handicap hurdle last time and impossible to fancy returning to fences in this company.
8. SPECIAL TIARA (Henry de Bromhead/Noel Fehily)
Top-class chaser in recent seasons, finishing third in this race 12 months ago (sixth in 2015). Back to winning ways in Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton around Christmas, but received weight all round (Sir Valentino second) and very disappointing when fifth to Un de Sceaux in Clarence House since.
9. TOP GAMBLE (Kerry Lee/Davy Russell)
Improved this season and showed high class form when third on both his last two starts at Cheltenham, including when seven and three-quarter lengths behind Un de Sceaux in rearranged Clarence House. Supplemented and has sound claims of running into a place, but wouldn't want ground to dry out too much.
10. TRAFFIC FLUIDE (Gary Moore/Joshua Moore)
High-class effort when five lengths third in 2016 Clarence House at Ascot, but off the track for 12 months subsequently and failed to beat a rival in two starts since. May have found race coming too soon when well-beaten in Ascot Chase last time, but something to prove at present.
Timeform Champion Chase 1-2-3
2. God's Own
3. Fox Norton
Timeform Analyst's Verdict:
The outstanding DOUVAN is the best National Hunt horse in training and, barring an unlikely mishap (he's a magnificent jumper), will surely land a third Festival success. It promises to be a much tighter affair for minor honours, with God's Own, who is a dual winner at the highest level, narrowly preferred to Fox Norton for the forecast spot.
For all the latest Cheltenham betting tips and previews, check out our dedicated Festival category.