Sunderland Echo - - Racing -

Char­bel has ev­ery­thing in his favour to be­come the in­au­gu­ral win­ner of the Tat­ter­salls Ire­land Edredon Bleu Chase at Hunt­ing­don.

The Grade Two con­test, the an­nual show­piece at the A1 track, is reg­is­tered and pre­vi­ously long known as the Peter­bor­ough.

But in mem­ory of the race’s mul­ti­ple win­ner Edredon Bleu, most fa­mous­forhisvic­to­riestooin the Queen Mother Cham­pion Chase and Kemp­ton’s King Ge­orge, it goes by a dif­fer­ent ti­tle for the first time.

It is al­ways a cov­eted prize, and only more so this year, with sev­eral top yards rep­re­sented in a high­ly­compet­i­tive 10-strong field.

Char­bel nonethe­less stands out as the one with the pick of cur­rent form, and still im­prov­ing.

Kim Bai­ley’s seven-yearold was in with a chance of out­run­ning his odds for the sec­ond suc­ces­sive year at the Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val, and pos­si­bly giv­ing the mighty Al­tior an­other scare, be­fore fall­ing at the sixth in last sea­son’s Cham­pion Chase.

After a slightly dis­ap­point­ing re­turn when beaten by the re­op­pos­ing Ham­mer­sly Lake at Perth in Septem­ber, Char­bel has upped his game sig­nif­i­cantly.

He gave 12lb and a nar­row beat­ing to sub­se­quent BetVic­tor Gold Cup win­ner Baron Alco at Chep­stow, then put Ham­mer­sly Lake and oth­ers in their place when a fine sec­ond to Poli­to­logue in a Grade Two at As­cot last month.

Even God’s Own, who has to give 6lb all round here, can­not match that form - and with the twoand-a-half-mile trip and forecast good to soft ground ideal, Char­bel should pre­vail as long as he is over his most re­cent ex­er­tions.

By the time he is cross­ing the line, Wil­liam H Bon­ney may well have banked his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive win in the Goffs Hand­i­cap Hur­dle.

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