‘He deserves to win this’: dramatic Queen Mother Champion Chase renewal at Cheltenham Festival

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  • The 2022 renewal of The Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival was a dramatic one, but it went the way of the Willie Mullins-trained Energumene, who was ridden by Paul Townend for owner Tony Bloom.

    The eight-year-old by Denham Red hit the line eight-and-a-half lengths ahead of his nearest rival, Funambule Sivola.

    “When you’re on a very good horse, it’s easy to make it look easy,” said Paul after the race. “He deserves to win this – he was enjoying himself jumping and I just held onto him.”

    The weather has played a large part in some of the races at Cheltenham today, with the rain continuing to pour all afternoon, which has a significant impact on ground conditions.

    “Energumene won on very heavy ground in Ireland so that wasn’t worrying us,” Paul said.

    Energumene 2J04KD1 Paul Townend celebrates winning the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase on Energumene during day two of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse. Picture date: Wednesday March 16, 2022.

    Remarkably, this was a first Queen Mother champion Chase victory for multiple Irish champion trainer, Willie Mullins.

    “I’m delighted and it was fantastic to watch,” said Willie. “He was travelling so sweetly all the time, Paul played the safe game and kept him wide and gave him a perfect ride. ”

    Owner Tony, who is a massive Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club fan, hence why Energumene runs in his blue colours, said: “I believed he could win this and the rain really helped us – we were actually praying for rain. He’s an amazing horse and we’re having a great time.”

    The favourite, Shishkin, was pulled up at the halfway point, with the horse, who is trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Nico de Boinville, never seeming to get into the race.

    “He didn’t like the ground and could hardly get out of it to the first fence,” said Nicky after the race. “There was no point him carrying on.”

    Envoi Allen finished in eventual third under Rachael Blackmore for trainer Henry De Bromhead.

    The Queen Mother Champion Chase is a Grade One National Hunt steeplechase race, run over two miles with 13 fences to jump. The race is held on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival in March, which runs from Tuesday-Friday, and is a massive highlight of the National Hunt season.

    When is the 2022 Queen Mother Champion Chase?

    The race got underway at 3.30pm on Wednesday 16 March.

    How to watch the race

    If you’re looking forward to settling down the watch the race from home at 3.30pm on Wednesday 16 March, then don’t miss our armchair viewing guide, which includes how to watch the Queen Mother Champion Chase on TV and much more.

    What is the prize money?

    The winner of the 2022 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase will take home £253,215.

    Who were the runners in the 2022 race?

    Horse: Shishkin | Jockey: Nico De Boinville
    Trainer: Nicky Henderson

    Energumene| Jockey: Paul Townend
    Willie Mullins

    Chacun Pour Soi |Jockey: Mr P W Mullins
    Willie Mullins

    Nube Negra | Jockey: Harry Skelton
    Dan Skelton

    Envoi Allen | Jockey: Rachael Blackmore
    Henry de Bromhead

    Funambule Sivola | Jockey: Charlie Deutsch
    Venetia Williams

    Put The Kettle On | Jockey: Aidan Coleman
    Henry de Bromhead

    Politologue | Jockey: Harry Cobden
    Paul Nicholls

    Recent winners

    2022: Energumene
    2021: Put The Kettle On – read the race report
    2020: Politologue – read the race report
    2019: Altior – read the race report
    2018: Altior – read the race report
    2017: Special Tiara – read the race report
    2016: Sprinter Sacre – read the race report
    2015: Dodging Bullets – read the race report
    2014: Sire de Grugy– read the race report
    2013: Sprinter Sacre – read the race report
    2012: Finian’s Rainbow – read the race report
    2011: Sizing Europe – read the race report

    Winning-most trainer, horse, jockey and owner

    There are three all-time leading Queen Mother Champion Chase trainers; Nicky Henderson, Tom Dreaper and Paul Nicholls who each have six wins between them. The winning-most horse in the race is Badworth Boy, who won it three times (1983-85). Two jockeys have won the race five times, which is the current record — these are Pat Taaffe and Barry Geraghty. And there are three leading owners in this race; George Ansley, Doug Armitage and John Hales — they have each won three runnings of the race.

    The history of the Queen Mother Champion Chase

    This race was established in 1959, and it was originally called the National Hunt Two-Mile Champion Chase. It was given its present title in 1980 — the year of the Queen Mother’s 80th birthday — in recognition of her support to jump racing. The Queen Mother was a successful owner of National Hunt horses, particularly chasers, and among these was Game Spirit — the runner-up in this race in 1976.

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