2m4f Melling Chase Sprinter Sacre’s toughest chasing assignment yet
Sprinter Sacre will start odds on for the umpteenth time when he lines up for Aintree’s Melling Chase, with Nicky Henderson’s superstar 1/3 in the betting with Coral, but there are reasons to suspect that this will offer him a test far sterner than the crap shoots he’s been bowling over woith contemptuous ease since his chasing career begun.
The reason for the injection of that thrilling element of doubt is the 2m4f trip. The Champion Chaser has won all nine runs at 2m dead and three of four runs at 2m1f, with his only defeat at around the basement trip coming in a high quality Supreme Novices Hurdle.
However, his sole race beyond 2m1f saw the seven-year-old fall to a hens-tooth-rare defeat to the admirable but far from top-class Frascati Park over hurdles. Clearly Sprinter Sacre is far superior as a chaser, but he’ll face three rivals of proven Group 1 chasing class over 2m4f in Flemenstar, 11/2, Cue Card, 7/1, and Finian’s Rainbow, 16/1.
Finian’s Rainbow and Flemenstar are both yet to taste chase defeat over the halfway-house trip and whilst it’d take courage to back the former, who has looked liked a horse who’s lost his way all season, the latter was an easy victor over Gold Cup second Sir Des Champs over 2m4f at Punchestown earlier this season.
Discounting his fifth when finding the 3m trip too far on heavy ground in last year’s King George Cue Card has only ever been beaten over fences by Bobs Worth and Sprinter Sacre. He gave the latter one of his closest runs over fences when going down by a mere seven lengths in the 2012 Arkle and has proved his liking for 2m4f with a dominant nine length win over the 168-rated First Lieutenant, but his tendency to throw in a dodgy jump may hinder him on Aintree’s fast course.
Ultimately, given his utter dominance in winning the Champion Chase by 19 lengths from Sizing Europe – himself a winner of all four of his tries at this longer trip – Sprinter Sacre is justified in being such a strong favourite and he’s 1/1 to win the Melling Chase by eight or more lengths with Coral. He’s won every start this term by more than 13 lengths and he already features prominently in the betting for this year’s 3m King George.