The big showdown between Energumene and Edwardstone in the Grade 1 Queen Mother Champion Chase failed to materialise as the former followed up his victory of 12 months ago with a facile success in the two-mile feature on Wednesday.
Relishing the rain-softened ground, Energumene was never far from the pace-setting Editeur Du Gite under regular rider Paul Townend while Tom Cannon never looked happy on Edwardstone, whose jumping lacked fluency at the back of the field.
Energumene cruised to the front after jumping three out, as Editeur Du Gite started to feel the heat, and then it was simply a question of negotiating the final two fences. That he did, with the Willie Mullins-trained nine-year-old powering home up the hill to cross the line ten lengths clear of Captain Guinness, with Greaneteen 24 lengths away in third.
Winning owner Tony Bloom told ITV Racing: “We were really confident going in. He’s run a tremendous race. He just looked the top horse all the way round, so we are delighted. Absolutely delighted. I had a few quid on, so I think we are quids in!
“We were confident anyway, but obviously the rain helps the horse. If it had been good ground, we would have been a lot less confident. But I think we were reasonably confident anyway and the rain certainly helped in the last few days – and the rain in the last couple of hours has been a big boon.”
It was a fine afternoon for Willie Mullins, who saw his Closutton stable record a 1-2-3 in the opening contest on day two, the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (2m5f). Stable jockey Paul Townend picked the right one as Simon Munir and Isaac Souede’s Impaire Et Passe preserved his unbeaten record with a decisive success over Gaelic Warrior and Champ Kiely.
North Yorkshire trainer Patrick Neville recorded the biggest success of his training career as The Real Whacker, owned by Neville, Mann, Duffus and Dennis, made every yard of the running in the Grade 1 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (3m½f).
Favourite Gerri Colombe produced a terrific late rattle under Jordan Gainford but he couldn’t quite peg back The Real Whacker under an action-packed ride from Sam Twiston-Davies, holding on by a short-head.
JP McManus’s purchase of A Dream To Share paid immediate dividends with the five-year-old son of Muhaarar taking the Grade 1 Champion Bumper (2m) under 18-year-old John Gleeson for trainer John Kiely.