No horse has been more visually impressive this season over fences than Sprinter Sacre and he heads to the Arkle Chase as many people’s Cheltenham tip of the Festival, with Paddy Power making him odds on favourite at the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday.
These people are expecting brilliance from the Nicky Henderson runner, but there are plenty of reasons to be wary of taking the short price regarding his chances – here’s why.
His sensational speed could count against him
Sprinter Sacre exuberant style over fences certainly catches the eye, you would be hard pushed to find a more flamboyant jumper in training, but with this style of jumping comes excessive signs of keenness in his races.
On each occasion this season he has pulled fighting a battle in early stages with jockey Barry Geraghty, which has, so far, meant he pulls himself to the front.
Thus far, this hasn’t been a problem as he has yet to face a horse capable of matching him and the layout of the courses has suited this front running style
At Cheltenham, however, many horses, especially in the Arkle, where frontrunners have only won one renewal since 1980, horses are caught on the run-in with a horse who has been stalking just off the pace.
The Arkle rides like a 2m3f event and out and out speedsters are well-known to be undone by its punishing layout and murderously long run in – Sprinter Sacre has only been in a battle twice in his career, at Ascot and Cheltenham in the Supreme Novices and both times he has been beaten.
The Arkle is famously a graveyard for favourites
Anyone thinking of taking a short price about Sprinter Sacre obviously are of the belief that this is a horse with a unique talent that makes past trends irrelevant.
The statistic that only two markets leaders have won this race since 1991 is incredibly damming and is probably the reason why Paddy Power have chosen this race as their “Cashback” feature if Sprinter Sacre wins.
Additionally four of the last five favourites to start shorter than 2/1 have been beaten – Sybillin (4/5) Mullingan (11/10) Sabin du Loir (5/4) and Decoupage (7/4).
Obviously all these negatives may prove to be a red herring if Sprinter Sacre is as good as both trainer Henderson and jockey Geraghty make him out to be.
But until he shows his potential superstar ability in a championship spectrum then he is very much a horse that the layers will be happy to take on.