A record number of 33 entries have been received for the 2015 Queen Mother Champion Chase, as the bumper list is headed by the last two winners of the race Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy. However, with that duo yet to be seen on a track this season then it's a wide open division that could well cut up as we approach the Championship event on March 11.
Nicky Henderson gave a positive report about Sprinter Sacre's current state and the 2013 champion is set to make his hotly-anticipated return in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot in a couple of weeks. A positive schooling session at Newbury over the festive period saw him contract in price for the Champion Chase and he is now a best-priced 5/2 favourite for the event.
Sire De Grugy was a sensational winner of the race 12 months ago and Gary Moore is desperate for him to take his chance of trying to emulate Master Minded, who won back-to-back crowns a few years ago. He missed the Shloer Chase earlier in the season, but Moore has pencilled in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury next month as his curtain-rasier, and a positive run in that should see him line up in the spring at the Cheltenham Festival.
Paul Nicholls knows what it takes to win this contest having saddled the aforementioned Master Minded to glory a few years ago and the Ditcheat handler could saddle Tingle Creek Chase winner Dodging Bullets and Al Ferof, who was last seen failing to land a blow in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park.
The latter has been handed an entry like so many in this race in the Ryanair Chase, which is devoid of the superstar Simonsig, who is reported to be fit for the festival, whilst another who has been handed an entry in the Ryanair as well as the Champion Chase is Champagne Fever, who will bid for a third Cheltenham Festival success.
Unsurprisingly, Willie Mullins will have an abundance of stars heading to Prestbury Park and as well as Champagne Fever he has entered Ballycasey, whilst shock Dial-a-Bet Chase winner Twinlight is another that could take his chance for the master of Co. Carlow.
The abovementioned Henderson will not only look to hand Sprinter Sacre a tilt at this race, but 2012 champion Finian's Rainbow could feature if returning from a lengthy absence, whilst Henry de Bromhead's Sizing Europe, who lifted the crown in 2011, is another previous champion that may line up in the opening day showpiece.
2015 Queen Mother Champion Chase Entries
Alderwood (age 10, trainer Tom Mullins) Al Ferof (10, Paul Nicholls) Baily Green (9, Mouse Morris) Balder Succes (7, Alan King) Ballycasey (8, Willie Mullins) Bright New Dawn (8, Sandra Hughes) Captain Conan (8, Nicky Henderson) Champagne Fever (8, Willie Mullins) Clarcam (5, Gordon Elliott) Claret Cloak (8, Emma Lavelle) Croco Bay (8, Ben Case) Dodging Bullets (7, Paul Nicholls) Don Cossack (8, Gordon Elliott) Eduard (7, Nicky Richards) Finian's Rainbow (12, Nicky Henderson) Hidden Cyclone (10, John Hanlon) Hinterland (7, Paul Nicholls) Johns Spirit (8, Jonjo O'Neill) Module (8, Tom George) Moscow Mannon (9, Henry de Bromhead) Mr Mole (7, Paul Nicholls) Next Sensation (8, Michael Scudamore) Savello (9, Gordon Elliott) Simply Ned (8, Nicky Richards) Sire De Grugy (9, Gary Moore) Sizing Europe (13, Gary Moore) Somersby (11, Mick Channon) Special Tiara (8, Henry de Bromhead) Sprinter Sacre (9, Nicky Henderson) Turban (8, Willie Mullins) Twinlight (8, Willie Mullins) Upsilon Bleu (7, Pauline Robson) Uxizandre (7, Alan King)