14:05 Cheltenham – Sprinter Sacre to defy Arkle trend
Favourites have held a horrid record in the Arkle in the last two decades, but this will not prevent Sprinter Sacre storming to victory at 10/11 and putting to bed the belief that he will not stay up the Cheltenham hill.
Sprinter Sacre has dominated the novice chase division over 2m this season, winning on all three starts since moving up from the hurdles ranks.
Jockey Barry Geraghty has rated the horse as potentially the best he has ever ridden and there seem few chinks in his armour.
Sprinter Sacre is an exuberant and stylish jumper and certainly has the engine to tank around Cheltenham and stretch the opposition.
Only two of the last 19 favourites have proved the Cheltenham odds right for the Arkle, making it one of the best Festival contests to oppose the market leader.
If there are weaknesses in Sprinter Sacre then it is the difficulties he has settling into slowly-run races and the general concerns as to how much extra he will find up the Cheltenham hill.
He pulled virtually the whole way round when winning at Newbury last time and a repeat in the Arkle could take its toll, with Cheltenham a far more demanding course than the flatter Newbury.
Since the defection of Peddlers Cross to the Jewson Novices’ Chase, Al Ferof is now the clear threat of the remaining five challengers and he stayed on better up the hill to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 12 months ago, overhauling Sprinter Sacre up the run in.
Al Ferof is 11/4 to win the Arkle, but he seems more of a 3m horse in the making and therefore may be caught short of the speed required to win the Arkle.
Of the remainder, Cue Card is 13/2 and represents each-way value and could run the front pair close if putting in a good round of jumping, but he cannot be relied upon to not make a collection of errors.
Pricewise has tipped up Menorah at 8/1 but last year’s Champion Hurdle favourite has flattered to deceive over the bigger obstacles and although talented, he has a lot to prove.