As the final instalment of our Cheltenham 5 feature in build-up to the festival, here we focus on one of the big draws of the week.
As the biggest National Hunt meeting enters a new era as a four-day festival this year, the Queen Mother Champion Chase remains a hot prospect.
Defending champion Energumene and last year’s Arkle winner Edwardstone take top billing, with all 11 runners capable of taking the crown.
However, could previous spoiler Editeur Du Gite be set to write his own screenplay and upset the applecart once more?
Editeur re-writing the script
It was only three short months ago that Edwardstone and Energumene seemed poised for a heavyweight Cheltenham battle.
That is still very much the case, of course, but a new player has now entered the fray.
Let’s go back to the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton, just two days after Christmas.
With Alan King’s 9yo six wins from seven, Energumene – not in attendance – looked set to have his work cut out at Cheltenham.
But a 28/1 shot was waiting to add fire to the Champion Hurdle cauldron.
Cue Edwardstone – the overwhelming 2/5f in the race – unseating Tom Cannon.
In the chaos, Editeur Du Gite then coasted home to a 13-length win over Nube Negra.
Though holding five wins under the belt, the result was something of a surprise.
Pulled up in the Marsh Chase on Grand National weekend, a third on return to Cheltenham last October was no indicator of form.
But it was clear, the Preston family and Gary Moore’s superstar was no one-off.
All three players then clashed in the Clarence House on Trials weekend back in January.
Despite a huge step-up in class for Editeur Du Gite, both Edwardstone and Energumene were usurped at 14/1.
Suddenly, the impending Champion Chase was touted a three-horse race.
It should be no real revelation that Editeur Du Gite is now a real contender.
Coming into Cheltenham last year with successive wins on the same course, it was the very same horse we talked up for the Grand Annual at 15/2.
A tidy placed finish was a good result but the strongly-ridden and heftily-priced Global Citizen was by some distance superior.
In 2023, Editeur Du Gite is priced at 13/2 for the new crown.
Testament to the rise of this particular French ride, his odds are shorter this term and for a bigger prize.
But already proving capable of the trip at a longer price, can a shorter value equate to similar success?
Trainer Moore is in no doubt of his horse’s chances and batted away suggestions of getting ‘lucky’, telling the Racing Post he has ‘every chance’ in the Champion Chase.
…or a different finale?
Fast-forward 12 months and again Editeur Du Gite arrives in Gloucestershire off the back of two wins.
His latest performances though, have been far more impressive ones in respect to the calibre of contests.
So the question is, can Editeur Du Gite this time rise to the occasion in his second festival outing?
Or will it be a sequel with the same ending? Niall Houlihan could just be the perfect foil.