Nicky Henderson was compelled to scratch the brilliant veteran from the race that honours the Queen Mother (3.05), rather emphasising the folly of his not declaring him for the Tingle Creek earlier in the season with a view to his being ripe for the Festival.
That makes it easier for the Willie Mullins-trained Chacun Pour Soi, which roughly translates as “everyone for himself”. Punters will be piling in on the hot favourite, who still has slight doubts about the suitability of the Cheltenham hill, but has been imperious in Irish combat since joining the Closutton trainer who, quite increadibly, has never won the Champion Chase.
Last year’s winner Politologue benefitted from the late withdrawal of Chacun Pour Soi then. His inability to reel in First Flow at Ascot renders him up against it here.
Both Davy Russell and Jamie Codd, regulars on the traditional Cheltenham preview night circuit, have been really sweet on the chance of Bob Olinger in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (1.20), which opens day two. Like last year’s winner Envoi Allen, Bob Olinger comes here after Grade 1 success at Naas, and he shares the same rating (150) as Bravemansgame, trained by Paul Nicholls.