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Cheltenham Festival: Tom Cannon makes Edwardstone admission ahead of Champion Chase

Tom Cannon is confident Edwardstone can play a major role in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase if reproducing his resurgent Game Spirit heroics at the Cheltenham Festival.

Alan King’s star chaser bounced back to his very best to produce a blistering front-running display at Newbury earlier this month, a victory that gave the Barbury Castle handler his second win in the Grade Two event alongside Sceau Royal.

It was Edwardstone’s first triumph since the 2022 Tingle Creek and having snapped a six-race losing run, the 10-year-old is now the general 8-1 third-favourite for the Champion Chase behind Willie Mullins’ El Fabiolo and regular adversary Jonbon.

Cannon said: “He must have put himself right in the mix. Hopefully he will be a bit closer to Jonbon given a change of tactics and anything more than that is a bonus, I think.

“If he turns up in the same form as he did at Newbury, we know he acts round Cheltenham so we keep our fingers crossed to get there in A1 condition and anything after that is in the lap of the gods.”

Edwardstone gave Cannon one of the biggest days of his career when waltzing to Arkle glory at the Festival in 2022, but there was disappointment 12 months later when sent off 15-8 second-favourite for the Champion Chase, tailing home in fifth and beaten 64 lengths by an imperious Energumene.

However, the jockey feels Edwardstone is heading for his second bite of the Champion Chase cherry in much better form and has been extremely encouraged by the feel his partner has given him throughout the current campaign.

“He probably wasn’t going into it in as good a form as he is this year, last year. So if he can continue the form he is in now, hopefully he will be thereabouts,” continued Cannon.

“He’s been a different horse since he has come back in this year. The first race at Cheltenham in the Shloer Chase he felt back to himself and the couple of times he had run at Cheltenham the season before he had never really picked the bridle up.

“In the Shloer, he picked the bridle up and pulled my arms off like he used to and then obviously ran very well in the Tingle Creek. Two-mile-four wasn’t to his liking at Kempton, but back to two miles at Newbury seemed to suit him, so you have to look forward to it (the Champion Chase).

“If we can get into a nice rhythm, then the best horse will win at the end of the day.”

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