Dodge Sprinter Sacre At Chelters!

With just seven weeks to go until the greatest equine show on the planet, namely the 2015 Cheltenham Festival, punters have again been served numerous clues as to where to place their ante-post wagers.

The ante-post markets also show that trainer, Willie Mullins, holds a strong hand across the board via a host of leading fancies, one of which is Vautour, who impressed in landing a Grade 2 novice chase at Leopardstown on Sunday.

It was an exemplary display that solidified his position in Cheltenham’s JLT Novices’ Chase, where he is the 5/2 favourite, and while that option looks realistic, he is also in the Arkle at 8/1.

Sunday also witnessed two cracking Boylesports handicaps, where Kevin Prendergast’s Katie T was mightily impressive over hurdles. While not Cheltenham-bound (doesn’t travel well), she is one to store away for the domestic spring/summer festivals at Punchestown and Galway. Behind Katie T in second was Modem, who could go for the County Hurdle, the very race Ted Veale won in 2013. Ted Veale really caught the eye in finishing strongly on Sunday and looks well capable from this sort of mark if heading back to Cheltenham.

In the Boylesports Chase, Foxrock overcame the age trend in winning as a 7yo, and the manner in which he jumped so well to score by 5l could see his handicap days at an end, with races like the Hennessy or Bobbyjo Chases on the radar.

Sprinter Sacre
But, back to the Cheltenham Festival, and the much anticipated return of Sprinter Sacre at Ascot on Saturday.

While beaten 3l by Dodging Bullets, Sprinter Sacre’s trainer, Nicky Henderson, was pleased with his effort, and expects him to be fitter at Cheltenham. That will encourage his supporters for the Champion Chase where he is now 5/2 joint-favourite with Sire De Grugy, although the fact Sprinter Sacre bled post-race may see others punting Dodging Bullets for the Champion Chase.

Considering Dodging Bullets won his last two outings – both Grade 1’s – he could turn out to be the value at 5/1.

Also at Ascot was a Grade 2 Mares’ Hurdle won by Bitofapuzzle over 3m, although the 2m4f Mares’ Hurdle over 2m4f at Cheltenham may prove too sharp, while Venetia Williams’, Baradari, won the Grade 2 handicap hurdle over 2m4f and could take in a Pertemps qualifier next ahead of the final at Cheltenham.

The New One
Wiliams was also on the scoreboard at Haydock on Saturday, although it was Nigel Twiston-Davies’, The New One, who was the most talked about winner.

Despite not being at his best, The New One managed to grind out a victory in unspectacular fashion, causing his Champion Hurdle price to drift out to 5/2 – a move that saw Faugheen stand firm at evens. However, the heavy ground was never in The New One’s favour, and the fact he won could camouflage what good form he may be in. He’ll have plenty of time to recover before heading back to his favourite track on better ground in March, and punters who fancy him for the Champion may not get better odds than at present.