Timeform: Sacre has Frankel potential
Timeform feel Sprinter Sacre could dominate the jumping scene in the same manner as Frankel managed on the Flat for the last two years.
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Nicky Henderson's six-year-old makes his much-anticipated return to action in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on Saturday, having had his reputation enhanced in recent weeks without even setting foot on the racecourse.
Sprinter Sacre's unbeaten 2011/12 campaign earned him the highest Timeform rating awarded to a novice chaser since its Chasers & Hurdlers series began back in 1975/76, whilst the exploits of Cue Card and Al Ferof this autumn have prompted a further hike to that lofty rating.
As a result, he goes into Saturday's race rated 11lb higher than fellow second-season chaser Sanctuaire, with none of their five rivals within a stone of the pair on the Halifax-based firm's ratings.
Timeform's Jumps Handicapper Phil Turner explained: "The evidence is overwhelming that 2011/12 produced a vintage crop of novice chasers and Sprinter Sacre, of course, was the best of that bunch.
"Comparisons with Frankel aren't all that fanciful - both are hugely impressive physical specimens whose style of racing is visually exciting, which makes them an easy sell to any floating racing fans. Let's hope Sprinter Sacre can carry on where he left off last season."
However Turner warns against underestimating Sanctuaire on Saturday, his three wins (including two at Sandown) earned him a rating last season which would have made him Timeform's top novice chaser in each of the previous 14 seasons.
"There is a danger of dismissing Sanctuaire's wide-margin win in the Celebration Chase as end-of-season form achieved against over-the-top rivals, but it's unlikely there would have been any such doubts had Sprinter Sacre put up that performance and he's certainly a worthy challenger," Turner added.
"However, given his past quirks, there must be a chance that his current zest for chasing will take a big knock once tackling a challenger of Sprinter Sacre's calibre."
Tingle Creek Chase (all ratings weight-adjusted):
Sprinter Sacre (FR) 194p
Sanctuaire (FR) 183
Doeslessthanme (IRE) 166