The latest Queen Mother Champion Chase tips and betting from Lewis Jones. Sprinter Sacre is absent at this years Festival, leaving the door open for the exciting Sire De Grugy. Can he take the Champion Chase crown?
The buying money merchants never had a moments worry as Henderson’s sensational athlete jumped around Prestbury Park in a style that we have rarely seen in recent times.
The pace was solid throughout and the first two had it between them from the fourth-last but when Barry Geraghty put the squeeze on Sprinter Sacre he bounded clear of the admirable Sizing Europe.
This was his stiffest test in a career that had seen him win all his starts over fences (five Grade Ones), but he passed it without breaking sweat.
He´s vastly superior to the rest of the current crop of two miles and unless his stablemate Simonsig takes the two mile route next season, which looks very unlikely, then there´s surely nothing to stop him. A freak of nature.
2014 Major Players
Only one place to start, and perhaps end, Sprinter Sacre. Bombproof, immovable, invincible. If he gets to Cheltenham in one piece, he’ll win and win without breaking sweat, unless there is something to progress through the ranks. That looks unlikely as bar Simonsig, last year’s Arkle looked a pretty dour renewal.
Following on from his Champion Chase romp, Sprinter Sacre went onto land two more Grade One’s to his CV by landing the Boylesports.com Champion Chase at the Punchestown Festival and the Melling Chase at Aintree, where he beat Ryanair Chase winner Cue Card in what was perhaps his most impressive victory, in terms of form, of his career.
That Melling Chase performance certainly opened the possibility of Sprinter Sacre being upped in trip but Henderson has gone on record to dampen that possibility, saying that he’ll keep him at two miles in order to defend his Champion Chase crown.
Simonsig, as touched upon, is the biggest challenger according to the markets but Henderson would be mad to try and get Sprinter Sacre beat with one of his own.
However, the horses are owned by two different connections, therefore if they put their foot down, Henderson may not have a choice. Although it does seem Simonsig will be competing at middle distance’s this season, with perhaps a crack at the King George VI Chase at Kempton and the Ryanair Chase on the agenda.
The next best in the ante post market is Cue Card, who has been beaten every time he’s faced Sprinter Sacre and will, like Simonsig, will be kept to middle distances. The shortest price of the novices coming through the ranks is Captain Conan, who again is trained by Henderson.
Betting advice: strong race trends
If Simonsig does fancy a crack at Sprinter Sacre he’ll take him on with the strong Arkle winners trend behind him. The last 13 Arkle winners to run in the Champion Chase have all placed at worst with seven winning.
It’s likely that Sprinter Sacre will go down the same route he took last season, featuring in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown and the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot. He’ll win both. In Ireland, the Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown in February usually throws up a classy two miler.
Ante post tip
Sprinter Sacre at the time of writing is 1/2 to defend his crown. If odds-on shots are your thing, please, fill your boots, but there seems little point backing him now with a whole season ahead and the possibility of injury scuppering a hefty ante post punt.