Days Hotel the one for the Sprinter Sacre forecasts at Punchestown
After passing what was likely his sternest test over fences to date last time out at Aintree, Nicky Henderson’s all-conquering Champion Chaser Sprinter Sacre crosses the Irish Sea to take out another Grade 1 chasing pot in the shape of the Punchestown’s Champion Chase due off at 5:30. Having deposed the Sizing Europe – the most consistent two mile chaser in training for three years now – with humiliating ease at Cheltenham he’ll likely succeed again here, but it may Days Hotel that chases him home for the forecast.
Sizing Europe was dropped 6lbs by the handicapper for that 19-length Prestbury Park mauling, but he’s still officially rated 11lbs better than Noble Prince, the next best horse according to the handicapper. Days Hotel and Foildubh – who round out the Grade 1 quintet – are rated 154 and 151 respectively.
Henry De Bromhead’s veteran fencer slammed the latter by 10 lengths over course and distance on the heavy going expected for tomorrow’s contest when the pair contested the Grade 2 Tied Cottage Chase back in February.
However despite entering Cheltenham as a 172-rated chaser, Sizing Europe’s performances in Grade 1 races in his homeland this term had been rather unconvincing, winning by under three lengths on both occasions. Considering the silver medallists in those contests, Realt Dubh and Rubi Light, are both currently rated 160 or below, it’s far from miserly to suggest that the 11-year-old is perhaps no longer capable of performing to his mark of 166 in 2m chases at the top level.
With Noble Prince yet to show any sign that he’s returning to the kind of form that saw him notch a win in the Jewson Novices Chase at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival, it’s Sizing Europe’s stable-mate that emerges as his chief rival for the runner-up’s berth in punters’ forecasts.
Days Hotel may have been beaten by Foildubh in a 2m1f affair at Fairyhouse last time out, but the yielding ground that day was not in his favour. In contrast Henry De Bromhead’s supposed second-string is unbeaten in five runs on soft and soft-to-heavy ground.
Days Hotel has won two of three career starts at Punchestown, but perhaps more tellingly from a forecast perspective he has twice beaten Realt Dubh – the same horse who finished within three lengths of his more illustrious stable-mate earlier this term – by six lengths in two mile chases this season.
A return to his favoured going may be enough to see him breast the line in second ahead of Sizing Europe, just as Sprinter Sacre leaves the winner’s enclosure on his way back to Nicky Henderson’s Seven Barrows yard.