Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Queen Mother Champion Chase

The Queen Mother Champion Chase was established in 1959 and, at that time, was known simply as the National Hunt Two-Mile Champion Chase. However, in 1980, the race was renamed to commemorate the 80th birthday of the late Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, widow of King George VI and mother of Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen Mother Champion Chase is run over 2 miles on the Old Course at Cheltenham, where it is currently feature race on the second day of the four-day Cheltenham Festival, which takes place in March each year.

In terms of popularity, the Queen Mother Champion Chase may be overshadowed by the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Champion Hurdle, but it remains a prestigious and valuable contest worth £350,000 in guaranteed prize money. Several horses, including notable names, such as Moscow Flyer, Master Minded and, most recently, Sprinter Sacre, have won the Queen Mother Champion Chase twice, but just one, Badsworth Boy, has won the race three times. In 1983 and 1984, Badsworth Boy was trained by Michael Dickinson and in 1985 by his mother, Monica Dickinson; he was ridden on all three occasions by Robert Earnshaw.

Barry Geraghty has been the most successful of the current jockeys in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, having partnered Moscow Flyer (2003, 2005), Big Zeb (2010), Finian’s Rainbow (2012) and Sprinter Sacre (2013) to victory, for a total of five wins. Sprinter Sacre started odds-on (8/11) when impressively beating Cue Card by 7 lengths in 2013, but the shortest-priced winner ever was the legendary Flyingbolt (1/5) in 1966, who cantered home by 15 lengths from Flash Bulb. Flyingbolt, officially the second best chaser ever, behind Arkle, reappeared the following day to finish third, beaten just over 3 lengths, behind Salmon Spray in the Champion Hurdle.

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