Cheltenham Festival 2014 betting tips: In March, wonderhorse Sprinter Sacre bids to retain his Queen Mother Champion Chase crown at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival but can anyone or anything get the better of him?
He has been described by his jockey Barry Geraghty as the best he has ever ridden and by his trainer Nicky Henderson as the best he has ever trained. Coming from these two legends of racing, that really is a statement to take notice of.
Geraghty, who counts Moscow Flyer and Bobs Worth amongst the great horses he has emerged triumphant on, says Sprinter Sacre is “frighteningly good” whilst Henderson prefers to call him “a big, black aeroplane with an aura about him”.
Last season, Sprinter Sacre became the first horse since Istabraq in 1999 to win at all three of jump racing’s major festivals.
Not only that but he destroyed his opponents in these championship events such as Sizing Europe, past winner of the Champion Chase, and Cue Card, who was so impressive when winning the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham Festival.
Ironically, the biggest opponent to his crown could be his stablemate and young pretender, Simonsig, who was so impressive in his debut season over fences.
He won the Arkle Chase fairly easily but the quality of opposition that day made it a less than vintage renewal comparing it to Sprinter Sacre’s victory in the race the year before when he annihilated the aforementioned Cue Card and Al Ferof.
Other than Simonsig, old timer Sizing Europe is sure to have another crack at his old foe but he is not getting any younger and unless Sprinter Sacre falls or unseats his jockey, there is no way he can turn the tables on the champion at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival.
Sprinter Sacre jumps like a stag, travels very kindly and has a high cruising speed. Rather like jump racing’s version of Frankel, he has it all from the good looks to unrivalled ability.
With competition thin on the ground over two miles, Henderson may look to a longer trip to give his star attraction a tougher race.
Sprinter Sacre easily beat Cue Card in the Melling Chase at Aintree in April over two and a half miles. He proved there that trip caused him no issues at all on such a sharp track.
Instead the effervescent Henderson may look towards the King George at Kempton over three miles on Boxing Day in future seasons when the horse gets older and the legs get slower.
However, Sprinter Sacre is only seven years old and reaches eight on New Years Day 2014. Eight is when horses tend to be in their prime and with no noises from Henderson’s Lambourn base about stepping him up in trip, we can assume that he will stay at two miles for the foreseeable future.
Another Champion Chase is surely his for the taking barring a mishap and I fully expect him to remain in a league of his own to his rivals.
2014 Champion Chase Betting Tip
Sprinter Sacre to win – 1/2 with Paddy Power
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