Boothill set for Champion Chase challenge at Cheltenham

Harry Fry is poised to let Boothill take a shot at the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, despite his star chaser heading into the Cheltenham Festival on the back of two falls.

A winner on seven of his 17 starts, the nine-year-old has claimed Grade Two honours over fences and started the current campaign in blistering form, winning two valuable Ascot handicaps at two miles.

Testing conditions saw him miss out on a run in the Tingle Creek at Sandown, but he has returned to graded company since. However, he failed to complete both the Desert Orchid at Kempton and Newbury’s Game Spirit Chase earlier this month.

However, Fry has few concerns about Boothill’s jumping and rather than face the burden of top-weight in the Grand Annual, is preferring to let his charge take his chance in the feature of Wednesday’s Festival action, where his rivals are likely to include the mighty duo of El Fabiolo and Jonbon.

“He’s fine and come out of the race at Newbury well and we’re still working towards Cheltenham, albeit it’s not an ideal prep coming down the last twice,” said Fry.

“Fundamentally he jumps well, he has just made two mistakes and fallen on the two occasions he has made a mistake. He’s fine in himself and it’s got to be onwards and upwards.”

He went on: “At Newbury we knew the ground had gone against him, but having fallen at Kempton, we knew it was our last opportunity to run and we just thought we would use it to get a clear round under his belt.

“Unfortunately the heavy ground just finds his wind out and that was exactly what Johnny (Burke, jockey) said – going to the second last his wind just gave out on him and he just made a tired lunge at the fence rather than a genuine mistake. He’s normally very surefooted.

“It’s either the Champion Chase or carry top-weight in the Grand Annual and we’re inclined to let him take his chance (in the Champion Chase) on hopefully a bit better ground.

“We’re not saying we’ll go there and win, but if he was to run a good race then you never know.”

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