This is the feature race on Day Two - The Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Much like the Arkle, this is a race that I love. The best chasers running a top speed into the larger obstacles thrills me and this is sure to be an absolute cracker.
Mullins has the hot favourite (for a change) but the previous three winners all line up. Dodging Bullets won this last year, Sire De Grugy the year before and everyones favourite Sprinter Sacre the year before that.
A very intriguing race...
UN DE SCEAUX
If Mullins cleans up on the first day then Un De Sceaux may well go off at 1/2 or 4/9, something stupid like that. The horse was the winner of the Arkle in 2015 and this race has always been the plan this season. Un De Sceaux bolted up by 6l's in the Arkle last year and although he will probably find it much tougher here taking on some very experienced 2m chasers, it would take one of them to be at their very best to beat Willie Mullins' hot pot. Ruby Walsh has said in the past that this not the easiest horse to sit on but I often think that the quicker this horse goes the better it jumps. Un De Sceaux often sets off at a furious pace and never see's another rival. If he is able to get an easy lead and if he can settle into a nice rhythm then that might be the case again here. Definitely the horse beat.
Although I really like Un De Sceaux's chances in this race it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if Sprinter Sacre ran a huge race here. He's already proved he has what it takes to gallop at a furious pace and jump around Cheltenham in the past. The Queen Mother Champion Chase 2013 winner has won two Grade 2's this season which suggests that he's back to somewhere near his best. It will be some race if Sprinter Sacre can improve again from those two runs.
It's still not 100% certain that Dodging Bullets will line up to defend his crown that he won last year. Paul Nicholls hasn't been happy with this horse after a splint problem and said only a few weeks ago that "Dodging Bullets will have to make massive improvement between here and Cheltenham." This horse loves Cheltenham and likes better ground so there is a chance that the ground at Newbury on his seasonal reappearance was the reason for that defeat. If Dodging Bullets repeats that then there is no chance he can win but Paul Nicholls hopes for a much improved performance. If Un De Sceaux's jumping doesn't hold up then Dodging Bullets has a chance.