Andy Gibson's Eyecatchers service: Is the right horse favourite for the Champion Chase?

Horse racing analyst Andy Gibson has been looking ahead to Cheltenham, where his Eyecatchers service offers some insight into the likely contenders for the Champion Chase.

The Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in early December produced a fascinating finish to consider, and if Edwardstone had not run his race on the day, then the performance of Greaneteen in beating Shishkin by six lengths would surely have received plenty of hype from the media.

Interest in the runner-up was negligible, however, given the beating he took from the best two-mile novice chaser of last season.

So, does this finishing order offer conclusive proof of the superiority of last season's novice division over their more experienced counterparts? If it does, then what is Edwardstone doing as the second favourite for the 2023 Champion Chase?

If taken literally, his Tingle Creek form is outstanding, and he is less ground-dependent than Energumene, who is the current market leader for March.

Personally, I do not see any need to come to any hard and fast decisions based on one performance, no matter how scintillating it appeared to the eye.

That said, his two previous superior time comparisons with Greaneteen from Sandown and Kempton last season inevitably look even more interesting after this success.

On balance, if he offered an each-way play in March at any point in the coming months after the Non-Runner No Bet (NRNB) rule comes into play, then he could be of plenty of interest.

The chances of this happening may appear slim at this moment; however, the markets are very fickle and one disappointing effort from the Alan King horse, followed by a pleasing effort from Energumene, could make a huge difference.

Even at his current odds of 5/2 he might be a potential play for some in an each-way double or multiple bet once we have NRNB on our side.

Edwardstone was only slightly quicker than Jonbon from the first fence to the winning line, but this race was run in a very different way.

The pace was much stronger in the Tingle Creek compared with the Henry VIII Novices' Chase, and possibly resulted in the front horses stopping, thus accentuating the pleasing nature of his success at the winning post.

Edwardstone was slower than Jonbon, and indeed Boothill, from the water jump to the line and from the Pond Fence to the post, and was also slower from the last to the line.

More than anything, perhaps, this suggests that Edwardstone's success was much more about stamina compared with the way Jonbon won his race.

Maybe this is another positive pointer for his Champion Chase claims given the way that race is likely to be run in March 2023.

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