After being cancelled last week due to the sub-zero temperatures at Ascot, the Clarence House Chase will go ahead this Saturday as part of Cheltenham Trials Day.
And in an exciting twist, original entries Energumene and Edwardstone will be joined by another excellent two-miler for the revised date.
Editeur Du Gite, who was last seen in December winning the Desert Orchid Chase in impressive fashion at Kempton, has been supplemented to the field by trainer Gary Moore.
And you can see why. The nine-year-old won twice at Prestbury Park back in 2021, and with a total prize pool of £90,000 the connections of Editeur Du Gite required little persuasion to come up with the £2,250 supplementary fee.
However, if the race had gone ahead as planned at Ascot then the prize fund would have been £175,000 – such are the vagaries of rescheduled racing.
Heading the betting market are Energumene, the Willie Mullins star whose only defeat since the start of 2021 came in last year’s Clarence House Chase, and Edwardstone, who unseated rider Tom Cannon in the Desert Orchid Chase but who was in powerful form when winning the Tingle Creek Chase at the start of December.
Completing the six to contest the Clarence House Chase, which will be aired on ITV at 13:20 GMT, are Amarillo Sky, who won at Cheltenham back in November; Funambule Sivola, the Venetia Williams trained Champion Chase runner-up, and Sizing Pottsie, who finished ten lengths behind Energumene in the Hilly Way Chase at Cork back in 2021.
Out with the Old
Punters lining up their Cheltenham Festival bets will be keeping a close eye on the Clarence House Chase, with both Energumene and Edwardstone featuring prominently in the betting for the Champion Chase in March.
Some caution is advised – the Clarence House Chase is run on the New Course at Prestbury Park, with the Champion Chase contested on the Old Course. There are small, but relevant, points of difference between the two tracks.
Energumene is yet to run on the New Course, but did win the 2022 Champion Chase on the Old by some eight lengths to Funambule Sivola. Edwardstone won the Arkle on the Old Course last year, but came up short at the Festival in 2021.
Editeur Du Gite, incidentally, has won on both the Old and New courses.
This will be the third time that Cheltenham has hosted a rescheduled Clarence House Chase, following renewals held at Prestbury Park in 2013 and 2017. The weather forecast suggests temperatures will continue to dip overnight but be warmer by day, raising expectations that top-class racing will finally return to UK soil following the cold snap.
Saturday’s Trials Day will feature an epic nine-race card, headlined by a showdown between two Gold Cup hopefuls in Protektorat and Grand National winner Noble Yeats in the Cotswold Chase, while the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase will finally be held following its own cancellation late last year.
The Cleeve Hurdle will feature Prestbury Park cult hero Paisley Park in what promises to be an outstanding day of racing.