Sprinter Sacre seems to have all opposition running scared ahead of the Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, with Al Ferof the latest big rival being linked to a different contest.
The showcase 2m novice chase event looks to be one of the most anticipated contests over the whole four days in March, with Sprinter Sacre, Al Ferof and Peddlers Cross in particular having their admirers.
Sprinter Sacre thrust himself to the head of the Cheltenham betting for the contest by demolishing Peddlers Cross over the Christmas period, but some believe that Donald McCain’s runner can get revenge at Cheltenham.
This is because the track is not as flat at Cheltenham as it was at Kempton which will not play to Sprinter Sacre’s galloping strengths, while the hill caught out the favourite in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last year when looking like a winner entering the final stages.
Al Ferof’s battling qualities saw off Sprinter Sacre in this contest and he is also unbeaten in his novice chase career to date.
Therefore, the threesome are all fancied and Ladbrokes are offering punters the best price on all of the trio.
Sprinter Sacre is currently the 5/2 favourite, with Peddlers Cross and Al Ferof both offering each-way value at 6/1 and 7/1 respectively.
However, Sprinter Sacre is certainly the safer if not the best bet, with Peddlers Cross also linked with the Jewson Novice’s Chase over an extra 4f or even a return to hurdles for another crack at the Champion Hurdle.
Al Ferof only just beat For Non Stop last time and there are doubts as to whether he has the jumping speed to thwart Sprinter Sacre.
Despite this, there is talk that Al Ferof may step out of novice company at Cheltenham, to take on the more senior 2m chasers in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
This may seem slightly odd, but there are reasons to believe that this race may actually prove easier than the novice contest, given that favourites Sizing Europe and Big Zeb are both nearing the end of their careers.
Al Ferof is 8/1 to win the Champion Chase.