National Hunt racing has seen some wonderful head to head battles between horses over the years.
Who could forget the battle between stablemates Kauto Star and Denman for example?
Well, perhaps the most highly anticipated battle still to come in jumps racing is Douvan against Altior.
Due to the high number of withdrawals from this year’s Cheltenham Festival, Douvan and Altior were two of the only really highly-fancied horses to make it to Prestbury Park.
Altior went off as the 1/4 favourite for the second race of the 2017 Festival, the Arkle Chase. The seven-year-old did not have things all his own way but he still managed to win with relative comfort to send bookmakers into floods of tears.
On Wednesday it’s Douvan’s chance to live up to the billing.
The Willie Mullins trained seven-year-old is a 2/7 shot to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase. The bookies will take some huge bets on Douvan and it’s hard to see him failing to live up to the billing.
Douvan has 13 wins from 13 starts for owner Rich Ricci. Along the way he’s triumphed at the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Arkle Novice Chase, the Maghull Novices’ Chase and this year won the Tied Cottage Chase.
Ar Mad was set to provide Douvan with the biggest challenge in the race but his withdrawal makes it even more likely that he’ll romp home. That withdrawal leaves Fox Norton the main contender to the favourite but Douvan’s beaten him comfortably both times they’ve faced off.
So, the winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase looks to be sewn up. But what about a couple of each-way options capable of putting up a fight and landing a place?
God’s Own could be one well worth adding to your betting. The nine-year-old has not raced in 2017 but his form over the last two seasons makes exciting reading for connections.
He finished ahead of Ar Mad in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park and twice got the better of Vautour last season. That sort of pedigree stands him in good stead for the two mile chase even if he disappointed at Ascot in November (although, to be fair that trip was probably a little bit much for him).
He’s done well at Cheltenham and over two miles before so make sure to back him each-way at 14/1 with Bet365.
When it comes to two mile chases there are few with more experience than Special Tiara. As you’d expect from a 10-year-old with so much racing under the belt, there have been highs and lows along the way but this could be a huge high for the Henry de Bromhead trained Special Tiara.
Nobody really fancied him in last year’s renewal which was won by Sprinter Sacre but he did very well under Noel Fehily to finish third. There are more than a few question marks about Special Tiara’s stamina, especially when racing on softer ground but he’ll certainly give it a game go from the off.
Special Tiara did very well to win the Desert Orchid Chase and he must have a chance to grab a place at best odds of 20/1 with William Hill.