The Alan King-trained Edwardstone has been a regular at the Cheltenham Festival over recent years, most notably claiming Arkle glory in 2022.
That Prestbury Park success led many to believe Edwardstone could become the third horse in six years to follow up an Arkle victory by landing the Queen Mother Champion Chase the following year.
However, it was not to be for the Robert Abrey & Ian Thurtle-owned gelding in 2023, as he could only finish fifth in the Champion Chase, with old rival Energumene claiming the spoils.
Edwardstone is expected to return to Cheltenham in 2023 and he is currently available at 14/1 to land the Champion Chase, while the Ryanair Chase is another possibility - he is 20/1 to win that Grade 1 contest.
|What||Queen Mother Champion Chase 2024|
|Where||Cheltenham Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire|
|When||3.30, Wednesday 13th March, 2024|
|How to watch||bet365's Sports Live Streaming, ITV Racing & Racing TV|
|Odds||El Fabiolo 2/1, Energumene 3/1, Constitution Hill 6/1, Jonbon 7/1, Edwardstone 14/1|
Luckless on his chasing debut when he was brought down at Warwick in November 2021, Edwardstone would dismiss all challengers thereafter en route to winning the Arkle the following March.
He made amends at Warwick soon after his debut and won three graded races at Sandown, Kempton and Warwick once more in the build up to the Festival.
Most of the leading players had turned up in a field of 11 for the 2022 Arkle and Tom Cannon's partner raced handily before coming up the hill well to see off Irish pair Gabynako and Blue Lord for the minor placings.
Less than three weeks later he was defeated at Aintree by the impressive Gentleman De Mee, the Willie Mullins inmate a fresher contender at the time and seemingly on the up, though Edwardstone has enjoyed some revenge since.
His first opportunity to showcase himself in open Grade 1 company came at Sandown in the Tingle Creek in December 2022 and Edwardstone certainly grasped that in style.
The likes of Shishkin and Gentleman De Mee faltered, while Greaneteen had no answer when Cannon powered to the front coming to the penultimate obstacle.
They went on for a nine-length success giving Barbury Castle handler King his first victory in the Sandown winter showpiece.
From that moment, Edwardstone was viewed as Britain's leading Champion Chase contender for 2023. However, things have not gone as smoothly as many would have expected thereafter.
Edwardstone followed up his success in the Tingle Creek by unseating Cannon in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton over the Christmas period before finishing second in the Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham the following month.
That Clarence House was delayed a week in late January after Ascot's card was frozen off, leaving it to be run instead at Cheltenham on Trials Day.
Energumene, the Champion Chaser, was the hot-favourite but he found a lot less than seemed likely as Gary Moore's Editeur Du Gite piled on the pressure from the front. When Paul Townend's mount bulldozed his way through the final fence, his goose was cooked.
Edwardstone meanwhile was arriving seemingly full of running to challenge the leader and traded very short in running. He hit the front but Editeur Du Gite battled back and got a slender win.
Despite only finishing second, Edwardstone's odds shortened for the 2023 Champion Chase, but he disappointed at the Festival itself, coming in fifth behind Editeur Du Gite, Greaneteen, Captain Guinness and race winner Energumene, who bounced back from his Clarence House disappointment to triumph by 10 lengths.
Edwardstone is unlikely to return to action until the end of the year when he could possibly be aimed at a Tingle Creek defence.
However, the main aim for next season will almost certainly be a return to the Cheltenham Festival, with redemption a possibility in the Champion Chase.
King's runner is 14/1 to claim the Champion Chase in 2024, with old rival Energumene available at 3/1 to land the Grade 1 contest for the third year in a row.
Energumene will certainly have his backers, but it is El Fabiolo, who followed in the footsteps of Edwardstone by winning the Arkle in 2023, that could be the one to beat in next year's Champion Chase - Willie Mullins' runner can be backed at 2/1.
Of course the Champion Chase is not the only option for Edwardstone at next year's Festival, as he can be backed at 20/1 to land the Ryanair Chase in 2024 if connections opt to go up in trip.