Sprinter hard to catch
Early-priced specials for Cheltenham are making their appearance in the build-up to the Festival which is only two weeks away.
One in particular makes loads of appeal and that's the 18/5 double advertised by McLean's on Sprinter Sacre and Dynaste.
The Nicky Henderson-trained Sprinter Sacre, unbeaten over fences and the easy winner of last year's Arkle Trophy, has the Queen Mother Champion Chase at his mercy – odds of 1/4 reflect that.
So the first part is virtually home and hosed which leaves the bet as an 18/5 single on Dynaste. Initially, the double was 5/1 before Flemenstar was declared a non-runner for the Champion Chase, so those who got on at that price, could be laughing all the way to the bank.
Handled by David Pipe, the imposing young grey is at best 9/4 to win the RSA Chase.
There will be costly memories of failure by the same trainer in last year's race when Grands Crus didn't live up to the hype despite going off a short 6/5 favourite, managing only fourth behind Bobs Worth.
Beware 'good things' at Cheltenham is an understandable cry but Sprinter is the proverbial certainty and while Dynaste is not exactly in that category, is a worthy market leader for his Festival mission race after three impressive displays including the Feltham Chase at Kempton over three miles which proves that unlike Grands Crus, Dynaste has no stamina worries. The only slight worry would be that Dynaste is also entered in the Jewson Novice Chase for which he's currently 4/1 joint-favourite with Captain Conan. But with Pipe wanting to make up for the miss 12 months ago, Dynaste is almost certain to be aimed at the RSA. And he won't be anything near 18/5 come the day of the race.
Others that catch the eye are 2/1 a place double on Pont Alexander for Willie Mullins in the Neptune Hurdle along with Dynaste to be in the first three in the RSA while on the Friday of Cheltenham week, Gold Cup favourite Bobs Worth can be taken in a place double at 7/2 in tandem with Rolling Star, one of the market leaders for the Triumph Hurdle.
As for who will be the leading trainer at the meeting, it impossible to look past the big three, Nicky Henderson, Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls.
Henderson won it last year with a record seven winners. He'll probably not repeat that, but Nicky will have more than a few winners and hence his price of 4/6.
Top trainer: 4/6 N Henderson; 6/4 W Mullins; 9/1 P Nicholls; 50/1 D Pipe, D McCain; 66/1 bar.
Top jockey: 5/4 B Geraghty; 6/4 R Walsh; 13/2 A P McCoy; 14/1 D Russell; 20/1 J Maguire; 33/1 bar