Thomsen's tip: I dreamed a dream

By Captain Thomsen on 20 Jan 2016

What do this weekend’s Clarence House Chase and Britain’s Got Talent celebrity, Susan Boyle, have in common?

More than you expect.

For a start the race and the singer share a rags-to-riches story that started in 2008.

That was the year that Simon Cowell masterminded Susan Boyle’s rise to national prominence from humble origins after her performance of ‘I have a dream’ on Britain’s Got Talent. It was also in 2008 that the Clarence House Chase was elevated from humble handicap status to elite Grade 1 status and won by Master Minded.

In the next several years Susan Boyle would become one of the best-selling female vocalists in British history, while the Clarence House Chase became one of the most prestigious 2 mile chases in the UK.
And that’s not all the two share in common. Both the Clarence House Chase and Susan Boyle are presently located in the UK, and neither has won a Grammy Award.

2016 Clarence House Chase

Where this comparison finally breaks down is when one considers the fact that the Clarence House Chase has produced three Queen Mother Champion Chase winners in the past three years, a feat that not only Susan Boyle, but every 2 mile Grade 1 chase in the UK, will find impossible to match.

This brings us to the 2016 edition of what has become the most important trial race for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

A talented trio

A small field will line up for the 2016 Clarence House Chase, with the quality of the favourites deterring trainers from submitting speculative contenders to the race.

In this small field only three horses have a credible chance of winning the race. These are 2015 Arkle Chase winner and intermittent faller, Un De Sceaux, Irish 2 mile champion Felix Yonger and 2014 Clarence House Champion, Sire De Grugy.

Un De Sceaux will start the 2016 Clarence House Chase woefully underpriced. His 13 wins from 15 career starts have convinced bookies that he’s virtually unbeatable over this distance despite the fact that he’s fallen twice in his six starts over fences – including a fall in his most recent outing at Leopardstown.

Not only should the fall have bloated his price, but so should the presence of the unpredictable Sire De Grugy in the field. Bookies are taking no chances with him either, pricing him at around 2/1 despite his second place finish in the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton in December.

In this case their caution is merited. Earlier in the season Sire De Grugy recovered from a last place finish in a Grade 2 at Exeter to win the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown a month later. His credentials are also bolstered by the fact that he won the Clarence House Chase in 2014 before going on to win the 2014 Queen Mother Champion Chase.

At 2/1 he’s a better value option than the favourite.

However, the horse most likely to upset the apple cart is Irish racehorse, Felix Yonger. Last season he was one of the top performers in Irish 2 mile chases, capping his season with a win in the Grade 1 Punchestown Champion Chase.

He had an ordinary start to his 2015-16 season over 20 furlongs at Clonmell, but went back to his winning ways when returned to 17 furlongs in a Grade 2 at Navan in December. With Danny Mullins likely to take his reins on Saturday, the partnership that won the Punchestown Champion Chase will be renewed.

The verdict

How you bet on this race should decide who you pick. If you’re going for a straight back bet then Sire De Grugy offers you the best value – at 4/6 the return you’ll get on a win on Un De Sceaux doesn’t quite justify the risk of an all-or-nothing back bet.

If you want to give yourself a chance to cash in on a second place finish, then Felix Yonger is the only legitimate candidate – and also has the potential to reward the win portion of your each-way bets.