Unlike some of the three-mile slogs, this shorter test is all about speed and, in Sprinter Sacre, Nicky Henderson might have a horse with the pace and agility to be remembered as the best of them.
Last season Sprinter Sacre became the highest-rated novice chaser of all time after winning all five of his starts over fences with consummate ease and increasing superiority. He is already a warm favourite for the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and a long odds on shot for tomorrow’s contest.
Kauto Star is the only six-year-old to win the race in the last ten renewals, so many may consider that a negative for Sprinter Sacre but his main rival, Sanctuaire, is also only six.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has dominated this race in recent times with six straight wins from 2005-2010 as well as two others in 1999 and 2001. He saddles Sanctuaire and Doeslessthanme.
Ruby Walsh has ridden three winners of this Grade One contest and will be aboard Sanctuaire. His Irish compatriot Barry Geragthy will be aboard Sprinter Sacre and can boast two previous victories.
Of the six different winners in the last ten years, only Kauto Star in 2005 won the race having not previously won over the two-mile trip or previously posted a win in Grade One company.
Only Sprinter Sacre has posted a top-level success over either hurdles or fences so the rest of the field – Sanctuaire, Doeslessthanme, Kumbeshwar, His Excellency, Idarah and Kinkeel – do look up against it.
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