Politologue was the surprise winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase, leading home a 1-2 for his trainer Paul Nicholls. Defi Du Seuil was an extremely disappointing favourite, trailing home in fourth after the withdrawal of Chacun Pour Soi had seemed to leave him with a straightforward task.
Instead, Politologue went straight to the front and stayed there, coming home clear at odds of 6-1 under a delighted Harry Skelton. Dynamite Dollars didn’t jump cleanly enough to challenge the winner but was a game second with Bun Doran third.
For Nicholls, it made for a much better Wednesday than his Tuesday. On the Festival’s opening day, the Somerset man had no runners, the first time in 25 years he has missed a day here, and he went to the local pub to watch the racing on TV instead.
“He ran how he looked today,” Nicholls told RacingTV of Politologue. “He’s best fresh. He’s not the easiest to train, he bled in the Tingle Creek. We changed what we did with him and he was very right today.
“I can’t wait for Clan Des Obeaux in the Gold Cup on Friday. When they’re very fresh and very well, it’s brilliant.”
Defi Du Seuil was the only runner from the ‘Big Three’ whose clash in this race was so anticipated. Altior was ruled out on Tuesday through lameness, while Chacun Pour Soi was found to have a foot abscess on Wednesday morning, leaving Defi Du Seuil to start at the restrictive odds of 2-5.
He never looked like delivering, Barry Geraghty niggling at him from the top of the hill. It was a dramatic change in fortune for the Geraghty/JP McManus team, who had won the previous two races with Champ and Dame De Compagnie, as well as Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle with Epatante.