Thursday, January 10, 2013
SACRE HEADS CHAMPION CHASE 17
OPTIONS OPEN FOR SIZING EUROPE
Jump racing’s rising star Sprinter Sacre heads 17 entries for the £350,000 Grade One Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase over two miles, the feature race on day two of The Festival, Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 13.
Nicky Henderson’s performer enjoyed an unbeaten novice chase campaign which culminated with a faultless seven-length success over Cue Card in the Racing Post Arkle Chase at The Festival last year and another easy Grade One triumph at Aintree.
The seven-year-old started this season in breathtaking fashion when thrashing Kumbeshwar and Sanctuaire by at least 15 lengths in the Sportingbet Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park in December. Sprinter Sacre is a 4/9 chance with the sponsor to win for a second time at The Festival.
Henderson is also responsible for the reigning two-mile champion chaser Finian’s Rainbow and exciting novice Simonsig, who is currently favourite for the Racing Post Arkle Chase.
The four Irish-trained entries in the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase are headed by the 2011 victor and 2012 runner-up Sizing Europe. Henry de Bromhead’s 11-year-old made it three from three this season with a comfortable success over Rubi Light in the Grade One Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown on December 27.
Sizing Europe’s trainer Henry de Bromhead said today: “The sportingbet.com Champion Chase is a race we are looking at for Sizing Europe. He has been entered in the Ryanair and the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup too and we just want to keep our options open at this stage.
“He seems in great form at the moment and we have been delighted with his performances this season. His win at Clonmel was very impressive.
“I’d imagine he will have one more race before The Festival and we are looking at the Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown in early February.”
The talented Flemenstar, who also holds an entry in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Ryanair Chase, has the option of going for the two-mile championship event instead.
HANLON HOPING CYCLONE CAN MAKE A STORM IN RYANAIR CHASE
A total of 39 entries have been received for the £275,000 Grade One Ryanair Chase, the chasing highlight on day three of The Festival, St Patrick’s Thursday, March 14.
Barry Geraghty gave Riverside Theatre one of the rides of the season when he denied dual Ryanair Chase winner Albertas Run by a half length in last season’s renewal, and the nine-year-old is one of three entries from the formidable Henderson stable.
Colin Tizzard could be represented by impressive Haldon Gold Cup scorer Cue Card, while Philip Hobbs has entered Menorah, who won the rearranged Peterborough Chase at Kempton Park over Christmas.
A top-class 15-strong Irish-trained entry includes First Lieutenant, triple Grade One winner Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs, one of six entries for the country’s champion trainer Willie Mullins. The trio came second, third and fourth respectively in the three-mile Grade One Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on December 28. Sizing Europe has a Ryanair Chase option as well as holding entries in the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Alongside First Lieutenant, Mouse Morris has entered Punchestown Gold Cup victor China Rock. Shark Hanlon is aiming his stable star Hidden Cyclone at the two mile, five furlong contest and the lightly-raced eight-year-old was placed at the highest level over hurdles. Hidden Cyclone has won three of his five starts over fences and came home eighth in the Lexus Chase after making much of the running.
Hanlon said yesterday: “We are looking at the Ryanair Chase over two and a half miles with Hidden Cylone because I felt he didn’t stay three miles at Leopardstown the last day.
“He came out of the Lexus really well but he just got too excited before the race and pulled too hard during it. I think going a stride quicker over two and a half will suit him a lot better.
“He goes for the Leopardstown Handicap Chase first and from there he will go for the Ryanair. I don’t think the track at Cheltenham will hold any fears for him but my only concern would be if the ground came up real quick.”