ONE MIN AWAY FROM VIC­TORY

Daily Mirror - - CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL -

THE highly an­tic­i­pated show­down be­tween Al­tior, Dou­van and Min in to­day’s Queen Mother Cham­pion Chase has been over­shad­owed by in­jury con­cerns sur­round­ing the three horses at the head of the mar­ket.

We waited for­ever to see whether Dou­van would run in the Ryanair or the Cham­pion Chase and when Ricci Rich fi­nally de­clared his hand we get the dev­as­tat­ing Seven Bar­rows bul­letin that Al­tior was lame.

I’m no vet but hav­ing an ab­nor­mal gait on the Mon­day with pus oozing out of a body part doesn’t sound like the ideal prepa­ra­tion for the big­gest race of the sea­son. In fact, it sounds more like me af­ter a night out on the sauce.

Let’s not for­get Al­tior has al­ready missed a large slice of the sea­son af­ter suf­fer­ing chronic wind prob­lems, which again sounds more like me af­ter a night on the sauce.

Al­though Nicky Hen­der­son’s horse looked at the peak of his pow­ers when cruis­ing past Poli­to­logue to vic­tory at New­bury, the pace was slow and his breath­ing won’t have been fully tested.

Dou­van is an­other horse plagued by in­juries and hasn’t been seen since flop­ping at 2-9 in this race last year.

The Dou­van of old would be a stonk­ing bet at 4-1 but can we put any faith – or any of our fold­ing stuff – on a horse we haven’t seen for a year? The an­swer to that ques­tion, by the way, is no.

Ruby Walsh, him­self com­ing back from in­jury, has cho­sen to ride Dou­van over Min, which tells you he’s op­ti­mistic.

Rac­ing has its own nat­u­ral way of dent­ing con­fi­dence and I feel he’s made a mis­take. MIN

has only seen ac­tion three times this year due to slight in­jury con­cerns but still looks to have had by far the best prepa­ra­tion of the three lead­ing lights.

His per­for­mance when de­stroy­ing the field in the Dublin Chase at Leop­ard­stown may even be good enough to beat a fully fit and fir­ing Al­tior and Dou­van.

He is the log­i­cal se­lec­tion to win this race, not that logic and horserac­ing are nat­u­ral bed­fel­lows.

CHAM­PION MA­TE­RIAL Min (right) can up­set the odds by beat­ing Al­tior and Dou­van

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