Edwardstone never happy in the Queen Mother Chase

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March 15

Maybe we should blame ‘The Ides of March’ (in 44 BC, March 15 became notorious as the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar), but, in view of the fact that horses cannot talk, we are still somewhat bemused why our beloved Edwardstone “never turned up” in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the highlight of day two at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.

Edwardstone has been a superstar for his owner-breeders, Robert Avery and Ian Thurtle, and he owes us nothing, but, surprisingly, the writing was on the wall after they had jumped just two fences.

From thereon, he was just making up the numbers, so, while doubtless Alan will have Edwardstone tested when he returns to Barbury, maybe the man on top, Tom Cannon, was best qualified to provide us with an early post-mortem.

Alan had made no secret of the fact that, while soft ground was fine for Edwardstone, he was praying no more rain would fall to make underfoot conditions even more testing than they were on day one,

Tom said:”Maybe it was the ground, but it was certainly not Edwardstone’s day. He is sometimes a bit cold over his early fences, but he usually warms up. Not this time, however, and I was hanging on to nothing at the top of the hill.”

Alan was reluctant to blame the underfoot conditions, and he observed that “it wasn’t him, he was never going”.

Clearly at a loss to explain such an uncharacteristic performance from Edwardstone, who trailed in last, beaten 63 lengths by the winner, Energumene, whom he had beaten in the Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham last time, Alan added:”I have never been happier with a horse going into a big race. His preparation has been so smooth, and he has not missed a beat for the last month.

“I knew Edwardstone was not going to win anything after three fences. You think back to the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, where he tanked the whole way round, This is his first off-day in 24 races, and I am totally in the dark.”

This Grade 1 had been billed as the big shoot-out between Edwardstone and last year’s winner, Energumene, and, in our stable-star’s ‘absence’, it was straight-forward for the heavily backed Irish-trained 6-5 favourite.

Ridden more handily than in the Clarence House and in his element in the mudbath, Energumene scored a brilliant back-to-back success by 10 lengths in this prestigious race.