Energuneme (5/2 to win 2023 Queen Mother Champion Chase) took the spoils in a highly-dramatic Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival after favourite Shishkin was pulled up.
Wednesday’s showpiece offered Energuneme the chance to earn some revenge over rival Shishkin (6/1 to win 2023 Queen Mother Champion Chase) after the latter claimed victory by a length in January’s Clarence House Chase.
However, the eagerly anticipated rematch never came to fruition as conditions played a big part at Prestbury Park.
The going had initially been described as Good, Good to Soft in places in the morning, but that was later adjusted to Heavy.
Shishkin struggled to show any of his usual zest from the outset and was pulled up early on by Nico de Boinville.
Chacun Pour Soi had been in contention prior to unsaddling rider Patrick Mullins and that left the Willie Mullins-trained Energumene to power on an earn victory by eight-and-a-half lengths.
It’s the first time Mullins has claimed victory in the Champion Chase and he was visibly emotional in the aftermath.
Mullins said: “It was fantastic. I was disappointed for the Donnellys (owners) and Shiskin and Nicky Henderson, to go out without a fight.
“You could clearly see early on in the race he wasn’t happy on the ground and in the conditions.
“Then for Chacun Pour Soi, he looked to be going very well, I was feeling for Patrick (Mullins) and Rich (Ricci) and then every time you looked back at Paul on Energumene, he was just travelling so sweet all the time.
“I’m surprised I’m feeling the way I am, that probably shows how much it means to me.”
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Charlie Deutsch steered Funambule Sivola to second place for trainer Venetia Williams, while Rachael Blackmore came home third on board Enovi Allen.
The Williams and Deutsch combination also came good in the 14:10 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase as L’Homme Presse (10/1 to win 2023 Cheltenham Gold Cup), who led from the eighth fence, fulfilled his favourite tag.
Sir Gerhard also went off as a favourite and delivered in the opening Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle for Mullins, while Facile Vega landed for the same trainer in the Champion Bumper.
Gordon Elliott’s Commander Of Fleet ran out a 50-1 winner of the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle to land the Irish trainer his first win of this year’s Festival.
Elliott also sent out a winner in the 16:10 Cross Country Chase, although it was less of a shock as his favourite Delta Work came home ahead of stablemate Tiger Roll.
It wasn’t the swansong many had hoped for with Tiger Roll, as the two-time Grand National winner now steps into retirement.
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