Sprinter Sacre made his hotly-anticipated return after over a year off the track, but the former Queen Mother Champion Chase hero was forced to settle for minor honours behind the sparkling Dodging Bullets in the Clarence House Chase, and that pair are all-set for a titanic duel in this year's Champion Chase on March 11.
Fresh from a Tingle Creek win, Dodging Bullets stalked his rival for most of the contest and then duly pulled clear in the closing stages to land the prize, but Nicky Henderson's Sprinter Sacre will be aiming to reverse the form when the pair meat on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival.
Sire De Grugy was unable to return with a win after falling in the Game Spirit Chase, which was won by Mr Mole, but the reigning Champion Chaser was a fine winner of a Chepstow contest a couple of weeks ago and he will be aiming to build on that effort here.
Simply Ned and Special Tiara could be another star duo that take their place in the line-up, but it could all figure in the leading few runners in the market for what should be an enthralling race on the second day of the National Hunt extravaganza.
5/2 Sprinter Sacre
5/2 Sire De Grugy
11/2 Dodging Bullets
11/2 Champagne Fever
9/1 Mr Mole
16/1 Simply Ned
25/1 Special Tiara
33/1 Sizing Europe
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The Queen Mother Champion Chase is one of the premier UK National Hunt races of the season as well as being one of the highlights of the Cheltenham Festival.
It is a race run on the Old course and attracts the leading two-mile chasers in the UK & Ireland and there is always a fast and furious pace for the punters to enjoy, it is the biggest race for horses in this class and as such attracts the best field of the season with a huge prize pot on offer for connections.
All of the big yards will have at least one horse they will want to target towards the Champion Chase each season with such prestige attached to the winner. There are a number of trial races like the Tingle Creek and the Victor Chandler Chase for punters to take in ahead of the Champion Chase itself; these races go a long way to helping punters make a bet on the big race with the form of the contenders all important.
The Champion Chase is the highlight of the card on Day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival and there have been some great winners of the race down the years since it was first run in 1959.
It was simply known as the National two-mile Champion Chase until 1980 when it was named in honour of the Queen Mother who was celebrating her 80th birthday, she was a great supporter of racing and a hugely popular figure among punters at Cheltenham making it a fitting tribute.
There have been a number of multiple winners of the Champion Chase down the years with Badsworth Boy the most successful of those having won it three times in 1983, 1984 and 1985 for Michael Dickinson.
More recently Moscow Flyer proved to be a brilliant Champion Chase horse with wins in 2003 and 2005; the Jessica Harrington horse captured the hearts of punters across the nation with two excellent wins and it was a timely boost for such a great race.�
Another dual winner of the race is the brilliant Master Minded who recorded one of the great wins in 2008, he jumped and travelled with so much style and power it is a win that will live long in the memory. Master Minded proved he was a great by returning in 2009 to win once again and he will long be remembered as a legend of the Queen Mother Champion Chase for trainer Paul Nicholls and owner Clive Smith.
Trials for the 2013 Champion Chase will be taking place all through the season and we will be keeping an eye on any relevant form guides as well as giving you a detailed list of all the runners when thh final declarations are made for the Grade One contest.
Tied Cottage Chase (Punchestown)
Victor Chandler Chase (Ascot)
Dial-a-Bet Chase (Leopardstown)
Tingle Creek Chase (Sandown Park)
Amlin 1965 Chase (Ascot)
Fortria Chase (Navan)
Game Spirit Chase (Newbury)