Nicky Henderson’s superstar chaser Sprinter Sacre hasn’t run under rules in over a year, but the 2013 Queen Mother Champion Chaser was cut from 7/2 into 5/2 to retain his Cheltenham crown in March after a successful Newbury gallop, and is now clear favourite for the race at 2/1.
Henderson and jockey Barry Geraghty were clearly delighted with the son of Network, who is still only an eight-year-old, following his ‘boisterous’ bound over five fences on the Berkshire track’s back straight.
Sprinter Sacre looks set to get an official run under his belt before the Prestbury Park spring bonanza at Ascot next month in the Clarence House Chase, were he could face potential Cheltenham rivals Dodging Bullets, Al Ferof, Somersby and Balder Succes.
The last of that quartet drifted from 12/1 out to 16/1 in recent days following news of the Henderson inmate’s return, although that could be put down to Alan King’s charge’s two-and-a-half-length loss to Special Tiara when 11/10 at Kempton over Xmas.
Another King Champion Chase hope, Uxizandre, is also out to 16/1 from 10/1 after the inconsistent gelding made a series of jumping errors in a Leopardstown Grade One, eventually finishing eighth out of nine horses, 31l off victor Twinlight, under A P McCoy.
Tingle Creek winner Dodging Bullets is holding tough at 10/1 in the market for Cheltenham’s 2m showpiece, while Al Ferof is into 8/1 from 25/1 after Paul Nicholls seemingly changed the Dom Alco grey’s plans following his third-place finish in the King George at Kempton.
Defending champion Sire De Grugy, trained by Gary Moore and ridden by his son Jamie, is unmoved at 4/1, having won nine of his past ten races and five on the spin between December and April of last season.
However, an injury discovered at the start of this campaign has hampered Sire De Grugy’s preparations ahead of his Cheltenham defence, meaning Moore’s eight-year-old will have something to prove on his next run, which is likely to be in February’s Game Spirit Chase at Newbury.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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