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Champion Chase – the likely lads, maybe men and lovable longshots

The likely lad – Sprinter Sacre

So imposing is the shadow that Sprinter Sacre casts over the two mile chasing division that only eight challengers held their ground for this race at the one month declaration stage, with the next three in the market strongly considering alternative festival engagements.

2011 winner Sizing Europe will ensure this is the sternest examination yet of his credentials, but no rival has got within six lengths of him since he first jumped a fence in public; he’s won on all goings from heavy through to good and given he’s yet to fall in his 13 race career is unlikely to blot his own copybook.

The maybe man – Sizing Europe

The “without the favourite” market looks the place to punt in this contest. Sizing Europe has rock-solid festival form in the scrap book and if they let Sprinter Sacre go off in front Henry De Bromhead’s 14-time chase winner should be coming back towards him as they burn up the hill.

The loveable longshots – Sanctuaire, Mail De Bievre

Given that those who try to give Sprinter Sacre a race are often passed, exhausted, on the way to the line by more conservatively ridden opponents (see Kumbeshwar’s 25/1 Tingle Creek silver medal behind him at Sandown) there is fair scope for backing an outsider who can pass the broken men  as the finishing straight hoves into view. Providing he can go the early pace, Tim Vaughan’s Mail De Bievre could be just that horse (if his owners pay the supplementary fee to make him a late entry).Sanctuaire has finished upsides of prospective entries Wishfull Thinking and Somersby and looks too long in the betting.