While much of the betting chatter around this year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival will inevitably centre around Altior and Douvan, there is another contender who might go quietly under the radar before coming up big on the day – Min.
The current ante-post betting picture looks like this:
The tight odds show that the Champion Chase is a little bit of a puzzle at the moment. You can keep up to date with the latest goings on in the betting markets (which will surely change over the coming weeks) for Cheltenham at https://www.freebets.co.uk/cheltenham-festival/, where you will also find information on picking up free bets for the 2018 Festival.
The two names that jump out of the list above are, of course, Douvan and Altior. What a race it would be if those two superstars were at their best? Both are regarded as among the best horses to have graced the Festival in the last decade, but both have big injury doubts hanging over their heads. Yes, both have been officially registered for the race, but neither Willie Mullins (Douvan’s trainer) nor Nicky Henderson (Altior’s trainer) are particularly confident of their participation.
Min Rarely Outclassed Over Fences or Hurdles
Which brings us to Min. Also trained by Willie Mullins, the 7-year-old has a record of five wins and two 2nds in his seven races. One of those 2nds was in his last race (Leopardstown, 27/12/2017), where he was demoted after being found to impede Simply Ned on the run in. The other was over hurdles, in what was Altior’s ‘breakout’ race – the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2016.
Apart from those races, which were by no means poor showings, Min has been pretty much imperious over fences. If punters truly want to see Min’s class, take a look at his comeback race at Gowran Park in November 2017. While it was a small field, lacking the class of the runners at Cheltenham, Min’s 36 length victory was achieved without getting out of second gear. It was a big statement, which proved Min was 100% fit after a long injury lay-off.
There is certainly something exciting about Min, made all the more intriguing by the fact we have only seen him in action six times since he burst onto the scene by winning his debut at Punchestown in 2015. He is also a scrappy horse, has never fallen and is rarely spooked when running in close proximity to other horses in aggressive races. Such attributes will stand Min in good stead when it comes to the Champion Chase.
Min Can Capitalise on Injury Worries of Douvan and Altior
The point trying to be made here us that a fully-fit Altior or Douvan would likely be too much for Min to handle. But there is a strong likelihood that neither of these superstars run at Cheltenham. Moreover, if they do run, they may well be rushed back too soon from injury. Is Min capable of winning in such conditions? Absolutely. Even if Douvan and Altior do make a full recovery, is Min capable of pulling something special out of the bag to nick the win? Once again, absolutely. The great and the good of horse racing should not be surprised if that ends up being the case.