Bloom’s Cheltenham Hopes Take A Knock

Brighton & Hove Albion chairman Tony Bloom has seen his Cheltenham Festival hopes take a knock just over a month before the action gets underway. Bloom’s main hope for this year, Energumene, was beaten in the Clarence House Chase, bringing into doubt his chances of a second Cheltenham win in a row.

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Energumene’s Defeat

Energumene had been a well-fancied favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham, a race he won last year for trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Paul Townend. Owner Tony Bloom, as well as the majority of the racing public, had backed Energumene in the ante-post markets, and although there are still plenty of horse racing betting options available to punters for Bloom’s star chaser, there is now doubt over whether he can retain his title in March, although he is still the favourite at 13/8.

With the Clarence House Chase having been moved from Ascot to Cheltenham because of ground conditions, it was thought that Energumene’s experience at the track would be enough to help him win, but he could only finish third behind his Champion Chase challengers, Editeur Du Gite and Edwardstone.

Pundits were quick to question his Festival chances in the aftermath, but they may well be jumping the gun slightly, something Bloom will be hoping is the case.

Bloom’s Previous Cheltenham Success

Energumene’s impressive win in last season’s Champion Chase was not the first time that Brighton’s chairman had experienced Cheltenham success. Bloom has been involved in racehorse ownership for many years now, and one of his most famous horses, Penhill, won twice at the Festival in 2017 and 2018.

Penhill, also trained by Mullins, was fragile but when he turned it on, he did so in style.

In 2017, Penhill caused a surprise by winning the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle for his delighted owner, and despite having raced just once between then and his return to Cheltenham the following year, he would go on to win the Stayers’ Hurdle, again starting at double figure odds.

Penhill continued his fragile profile throughout the remainder of his career, with retirement eventually beckoning after failing badly to win the Stayers’ Hurdle again in 2020.

Can Energumene Turn Things Around?

Bloom and Energumene’s many backers will be hoping that his performance in the Clarence House Chase was a mere blip in what has been an extraordinary career to date. It was just the third time from thirteen starts that the star chaser had tasted defeat on the racetrack, and he has previously bounced back from a surprise defeat to rise to the top once again.

They say that form is temporary, class is permanent, a saying that Bloom will be hoping to be correct by the time the Cheltenham Festival comes around in March.

Another saying to keep in mind is that ‘one poor performance does not a bad horse make’. Mullins is sure to have ironed out any problems before Energumene’s attempt at retaining his Champion Chase title, so Bloom will not be panicking just yet.

As he has experienced many times with his football team, the game is not over until the final whistle blows.

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