Too tough to oppose super Sprinter
Our Will Hayler looks at the ante-post market for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, but can find little value at present.
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Failing to produce a tip in a tipping piece feels a bit like being the only one who doesn't bring a bottle to the party. But sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say 'too hard'.
Sprinter Sacre is a marvellous performer who thoroughly deserves the dominant position he holds at the top of the betting market. Bar something shocking happening in his intended Cheltenham prep-race at Ascot later this month, he will surely start even shorter than the 1/2 at which he can now be backed.
But even though I firmly believe that everything has its price, the thought of backing a horse at those sort of odds for a race still more than two months away leaves my spidey-sense tingling. And not in a good way.
Second-favourite Flemenstar's plans have already been chopped and changed several times, only to reach the current position whereby all options apparently remain open.
We now know that trainer Peter Casey's son isn't a big fan of the Ryanair and we can elucidate the horse's owner, Stephen Curran, is not yet convinced that lack of stamina was to blame for his defeat over three miles last time as, under his direction, the horse will now run again over the same trip before further decisions are taken.
At one stage, Flemenstar was being reported as more likely to run in the Champion Chase than either the Ryanair or the Gold Cup, but that no longer seems to be the case.
Frankly, good a performer as he is, I wouldn't back him at 4/1 to beat Sprinter Sacre over two miles even if he was declared an intended starter. Next.
Despite my misgivings, Sizing Europe has ultimately gone some way to proving trainer Henry de Bromhead right by performing perfectly adequately in two starts over three miles so far, but his ideal trip is probably two and a half now and he needs a good test to be fully effective over the minimum trip.
Thankfully, he'll get one here and I would have to argue that this contest is the horse's likeliest target, despite holding entries - like Flemenstar - here, in the Ryanair and in the Gold Cup.
His record over course and distance is enough to entitle him to plenty of each-way respect at 8/1, but although I like the 2/1 for the place part of the bet, I'm not sure if I'm prepared to throw away the money for the win part given that I don't think he can beat an on-song Sprinter Sacre.
And so, dear reader, you can see the problem with taking an ante-post view on the race. I can't play on the win market and I can't back anything each-way when the win part of the bet seems quite so futile against the awesome power of the favourite.
Those desperate to add to their antepost portfolios might, I suppose, want to consider Kumbeshwar each-way at 66/1. He has become a bit of a specialist at picking up the pieces and is one-all against Sanctuaire so far this season, but four times the price.
However, personally I will be waiting until the picture becomes considerably clearer over running plans before parting with my cash. For while I understand that successfully second-guessing who will run where can sometimes lead to some decent value being snouted out, as things stand I can neither back Sprinter Sacre nor bring myself to oppose him.