2pts win Fox Norton w/o Douvan @9/4 NRNB, Queen Mother Champion Chase

Thanks to a perfect record for his stable, Willie Mullins’s Douvan bosses the betting for the Queen Mother Champion Chase on the third day of the upcoming Cheltenham Festival.

Nicky Henderson’s Altior would be the only horse in training I’d want to take him on with – though if that clash is ever to happen it won’t be this season, with the novice-equivalent, the Arkle Chase, his chosen assignment on the Tuesday.

Though anything can happen in horse racing, both of those races look sewn up in the win markets and the two named horses will ensure small fields take them on as trainers run scared.

Focusing on Douvan’s race, last year’s winner Sprinter Sacre has been retired and second-placed Un De Sceaux is being stepped up in trip for a crack at the Ryanair on Thursday.

At least the third-placed horse, Special Tiara, will have another go – but he’s getting old now and it’d be daft to expect him to be good enough, particularly after an indifferent season.

Previous winner Sire De Grugy is unlikely to take his chance and has lost his form after a good start to the season, while his stablemate Ar Mad has unfortunately been ruled out of the race through injury.

Alan King is favouring the Ryanair with his Uxizandre so it appears just God’s Own and FOX NORTON are left to consider in the without Douvan market.

Both are very talented and the former has won Grade 1 chases at the spring fesitvals before – notably beating the late, great Vautour at Punchestown last year – but it’s Colin Tizzard’s up-and-comer who looks a fantastic bet at 9/4 with Douvan out of the equation.

There’s a chance he could step up in trip and tackle the Ryanair, but we can take that price non-runner-no-bet with several firms and Tizzard has last week stated the Champion Chase as his target.

He has very good form at Cheltenham having run away with the Shloer Chase before Christmas (Special Tiara was well beaten), and Tizzard seems very keen on his chances despite a tame effort when attempting the impossible task of giving weight to Altior last month at Newbury.

He was returning from injury then and had barely done any real work so was entitled to need the run, and Tizzard claims it’ll take a very good one to beat him in whichever race he goes for at the Festival.

If returning to pre-Christmas form it certainly will – so, given all the likely non-runners, let’s fill our boots with the 9/4 NRNB quotes in the without Douvan market before the final declarations are made next week.

2pts win Fox Norton w/o Douvan @9/4 NRNB, Queen Mother Champion Chase

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