AN INCREDIBLE day today (Tuesday) with some highs and lows. I wasn’t alone in feeling absolutely empty after Annie Power’s fall. Could Ruby have done more? Could he have protected her a bit more coming to the last with so much horse under him? Did she try to jump the shadow of the hurdle? Was the sun in her eyes? Who knows but whatever happened it has saved the bookies untold millions of pounds.
Anyway, we go again… I’ll start with the big race of the day and with an old friend…
3.20 – Queen Mother Champion Chase
Another wonderful day in store on Day 2 with the highly competitive Champion Chase over 2 miles as the highlight for me. This was the race that Sprinter Sacre took in the most magnificent way two years to become the best rated jumps horse in training but sadly he missed out last year and it was left to Sire De Grugy to take on the mantle of Champion Chaser.
This year we are in for an absolute treat as both Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy line up along with Dodging Bullets who beat Sprinter Sacre in the recent prep race and Mr Mols ridden by the champ AP McCoy. Another fascinating contender is Champagne Fever who goes in this race as opposed to the Ryanair where I thought he would have a cracking chance of winning it given his record at Cheltenham.
Main Selection: Sprinter Sacre
More wisened racing aficionados than me were struggling to find the words to describe the quality of Sprinter Sacre’s wins in 2012 and 2013 at the festival and he was subsequently rated as the best jumps horse in training.
He was quite simply untouchable.
He has since had a heart problem and missed last season but he is back now and Nicky Henderson seems happy with him. His prep race was eagerly anticipated by his thousands of fans (including me) and it ended up being something of a damp squib as he finished second to Dodging Bullets after looking like the winner most of the way round.
To be quite frank the ride that Barry Geraghty gave him that day was the most cautious ride I have ever seen a horse given. Had it not been Sprinter Sacre or Geraghty a ride like that could (and should) have attracted a ban for failing ti run a horse on its merits. Horse welfare always comes first of course but he had no intention of winning the race. That was the horse’s first race since his heart problem and he will undoubtably improve for that run.
If he is anything like the old horse he used to be he will win this by 5 lengths. Let’s hope he does.
Each way Selection: Champagne Fever
It might be a bit cheeky calling a 5/1 shot an each way shout but you’re getting 1/4 odds with totesport for 3 places so it’s a bet to nothing the way I see it. I can’t let this lad go unbacked.
His record at the last three festivals is 1st, 1st, 2nd and he is as genuine as they come. He has had a few upsets over fences but his last run when he beat some decent chasers quite comfortably was very encouraging and with the Mullins horses in the form they are in (1,2,3 in the Champion Hurdle – has that EVER been done before?) I have to keep him onside.
I’m still with Sprinter Sacre but if he isn’t quite right then Champagne Fever could be the one to pick up the pieces.
The Voice of Value Betting suggestions:
Sprinter Sacre – 5 points win – 3/1 with Totesport
Champagne Fever – 2 points each way – 5/1 with Totesport