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2015 Queen Mother Champion Chase - Dodging Bullets wins Cheltenham Festival highlight

Jon Wilde in Wed. 15th March 11 Mar 2015
Dodging Bullets, ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies, wins the Queen Mother Champion Chase from Somersby at the Cheltenham Festival on March 11 2015 (credit: Cheltenhampro.com)

Dodging Bullets upstaged three former winners of the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase to land the highlight on day two of the 2015 Cheltenham Festival.

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Sire De Grugy (2014), Sprinter Sacre (2013) and Sizing Europe (2011) were all trying to win the two-mile speed test for a second time, but instead it was Paul Nicholls’ seven-year-old who added his name to the illustrious roll of honour.

Bred by Frankie Dettori, Dodging Bullets (9/2) won by a length and a quarter from the veteran Somersby (33/1) with front-runner Special Tiara (18/1) a further length and three-quarters back in third.

Sire De Grugy was fourth, seven lengths further adrift, after being held up and never able to strike a blow, while 9/4 favourite Sprinter Sacre was pulled up before the final fence having weakened right out of contention.

Sam Twiston-Davies always had Dodging Bullets in a handy position just off the pace set by Special Tiara and a three-way battle developed in the home straight between that duo and Somersby, who came with a strong run on the outside.

Ultimately Dodging Bullets just had the pace to keep the 11-year-old at bay and gave Nicholls a fifth success in the Wednesday highlight of the Cheltenham Festival following the victories of Master Minded (two), Call Equiname and Azertyuiop.

Nicholls and Twiston-Davies were also completing a double on the day after Aux Ptits Soins (9/1) had got the best of a tight finish to the Coral Cup.


Frankie Dettori (right), breeder of Dodging Bullets, celebrates with Sam Twiston-Davies after their victory in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase on day two of the Cheltenham Festival (Getty Images)

Twiston-Davies said:
“What a horse. Harry Derham and the team have done a great job - Harry rides him all the time and Paul wouldn't let Frankie Dettori ride him at home when he came down the other day, which says a lot.”

Nicholls said:
“That was absolutely awesome. The progress he's made has been absolutely phenomenal.”

Dettori described the outcome as "unbelievable" and added of the son of Dubawi:
“It was meant to be the Derby, but this is the second best.”

However, serious doubts now surround the future of the formerly brilliant Sprinter Sacre, whose health problems that have kept him off the track for much of the last two seasons have evidently not gone away.

Jockey Barry Geraghty reported that the nine-year-old, who was pulled up with a heart condition at Kempton in December 2013 and did not race at all in 2014, did not feel right going to the first fence in the back straight.

Nicky Henderson’s gelding was still in contention three fences from home, but produced some slightly hesitant jumps throughout the race and was well beaten turning into the straight.


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2015 Queen Mother Champion Chase - Dodging Bullets wins Cheltenham Festival highlight

Dodging Bullets upstaged three former winners of the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase to land the highlight on day two of the 2015 Cheltenham Festival.

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