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Off The Fence: Barry Geraghty backs Energumene to bounce back in Champion Chase at Cheltenham Festival | Racing News

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Barry Geraghty has advised against writing off Energumene just yet after his Clarence House Chase disappointment at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Last year’s Champion Chase hero was sent off a well-backed 4/9 favourite for the rearranged Grade One clash, but looked beat even before making a bad blunder at the last fence, as he finished just shy of seven lengths behind Editeur Du Gite and Edwardstone.

Bookmakers responded to that defeat by easing Willie Mullins’ star from 8/11 favourite to 2/1 for the defence of his Festival crown in March, with Clarence House runner-up Edwardstone joining him at 2/1 (from 5/2).

Speaking on the latest episode of Off The Fence, Geraghty said a return to the Old Course on the Wednesday of the four-day showpiece meeting could help Energumene bounce back to his best.

“The main difference is [the Champion Chase] will be on the Old Course rather than the New Course, which was always my main concern for Energumene,” Geraghty said. “The New Course is more stamina-based and I think that suited the winner.

“Editeur Du Gite got a brilliant ride from Niall Houlihan, keeping the pace even and quickening from four out.

“Both Energumene and Edwardstone ran keen. The Old Course is sharper and quicker and I think Energumene will settle better at the pace.

“I wouldn’t write him off. I’d love him in the Champion Chase still and is good value.”

Editeur Du Gite (near) heads up the run-in in the Clarence House Chase ahead of Energumene and Edwardstone
Editeur Du Gite (near) heads up the run-in in the Clarence House Chase ahead of Energumene and Edwardstone

Fellow Off The Fence panellist Tony Keenan was less forgiving of Energumene’s display and instead thinks Edwardstone was the standout performer from the race.

“I don’t want to dismiss the winner out of hand completely as he seems to have improved an awful lot in his last couple of starts, but for me Edwardstone looked the best horse on the day,” he said.

“I think the lack of a recent run is very important with him. He thrived on racing last season when kept busy.

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Trainer Alan King expects Edwardstone to improve from his narrow defeat to Editeur Du Gite in Saturday’s Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham, with the hope of better ground in the Champion Chase in March.

“On three of his last four completed starts he’s run to a very high level and I thought this was another excellent effort.

“I’m not sure if the ride was ill-judged or one for the next day but he had to take him back to get him settled and then had to make up a huge amount of ground.

“I wasn’t so keen on Energumene. I’m not sure they got the tactics right as he didn’t seem to enjoy being in behind horses, but that was the only real excuse I could come up with for him.

“The mistake at the last was only the cause of him getting beaten further rather than losing the race. It was a really sub-par performance.”

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