Sacre Odds-on for Champion Chase
Sprinter Sacre is odds-on for the Queen Mother Champion Chase after a stunning success in the Sportingbet Tingle Creek.
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Nicky Henderson's Arkle winner was sent off at 4/11 for his seasonal return and put in a phenomenal display to beat Kumbeshwar by 15 lengths, and he's now a standout 4/7 shot for the Cheltenham contest with Boylesports.
Market rival Sanctuaire had set out to make the running under Ruby Walsh but Barry Geraghty drew alongside the pair on Sprinter Sacre at the Pond Fence before bounding clear as Sanctuaire faded into third.
It was a performance which drew comparisons with the likes of Moscow Flyer and Kauto Star, both previous winners of the race, and it saw Sky Bet cut him to 2/5 from 10/11 for the Champion Chase.
Coral are one of several firms who quote 1/2 from evens, and the firm's David Stevens reckons it was a display that marks a new era in National Hunt racing.
"Sprinter Sacre brushed aside a top-class rival in the shape of Sanctuaire to give Nicky Henderson a first Tingle Creek success, and he now joins Big Buck's as an odds-on favourite for a Festival showpiece, a position he is unlikely to relinquish before March," he said.
"Frankel has dominated flat racing in recent seasons, and Sprinter Sacre has the ability to do likewise in jumping's two-mile division."
Stan James also quote 1/2 but their spokesman Rory Jiwani doesn't expect the price to hold. He said: "Today was Sanctuaire's best chance of beating Sprinter Sacre but he exerted so much effort in trying to stretch the favourite that he ended up losing second to Kumbeshwar.
"The Arkle winner was simply too good for his rivals yet again and he looks bombproof as far as the Festival is concerned.
"Barry Geraghty has compared Sprinter Sacre to the great Moscow Flyer and on the basis of today's display, he could be even better than the 2004 Tingle Creek and dual-Champion Chase winner.
"I'm fairly sure that 1/2 won't be around for long and he could well dominate over jumps in the same way Frankel did on the flat."
It was a fine day for Henderson whose Captain Conan impressed in the Henry VIII Novices' Chase and he's no bigger than 7/1 to succeed his stablemate as Arkle champion come the spring.
There was further movement in that market as Oscars Well won at Navan as, while Coral and William Hill remained happy to quote 12/1, others took evasive action.
Stan James cut Oscars Well to 7/1, the lowest quote around, and expect him to play his part in a fascinating race on day one of the Cheltenham Festival.
Over at Aintree, Ben Linfoot's 14/1 tip Hello Bud rolled back the years to win the Betfred Becher Chase for a second time, but it was second home Join Together who caught the eye of bookmakers.
Stan James cut him to 25/1 from 66s for the John Smith's Grand National and he's as short as 18/1 with bet365 to give Paul Nicholls back-to-back victories in the spring spectacular.