The Punter: Sprinter Sacre is quickest
Is there any point in taking Betfair's 3/5 about Sprinter Sacre for Cheltenham's Champion Chase? Many would immediately say no as much can happen between now and March.
More sensible to wait until near the day to make sure he runs.
Such thinking is understandable, except by then Sprinter Sacre will be in the Frankel price range such is the inevitability of his likely success, judging by the way he demolished the opposition by an effortless 15 lengths in last Saturday's Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.
Unbeaten in six races over fences, and a consummate winner of last year's Arkle Trophy when annihilating subsequent good winners Cue Card and Al Ferof, his class shines through.
Trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey Barry Geraghty know they have something very special and it's doubtful if anything will ever beat him barring accident, such is his speed and the nature of his jumping.
There is every liklihood of Sprinter Sacre becoming the Frankel of jump racing and emerging as the bright new star in racing's firmament.
His next outing will be the Victor Chandler Chase on January 19 and, nicknamed the ‘Black Aeroplane', he should have no trouble flying in and taking another step towards a wider public appreciation.
Geraghty said: “People keep asking me if he’s the best I’ve ever ridden. Well, he’s certainly the most flamboyant because the other great two-mile chaser I rode, Moscow Flyer, would only win by a couple of lengths no matter what you put in with him.
“Sprinter gives you the lot, with him every race is showtime and he wants to make an impression and let you know what he can do.”
So 3/5 does look attractive and, if taken with the other Cheltenham ‘certainty' Big Buck's — unbeatable in three-mile hurdles and currently available at 4/6 — makes for a solid and profitable double at just under 7/4.
Where else would you get such easy money?
Ireland have their own up-and-coming class act, Flemenstar, whose target will be the Cheltenham Gold Cup after he hacks up in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting.
The way he destroyed the previously unbeaten Sir Des Champs by five lengths in the John Durkan at Punchestown last Sunday suggests he'll have no trouble staying further than 2m 4f.
Ebullient trainer Peter Casey insists we haven't seen the best of the horse yet and quickly dismisses the suspicion that Flemenstar won't handle three miles or indeed the 3m 2f of the Gold Cup. He'll likely clash with Sir Des Champs again in the Lexus but that won't worry Casey too much.
Flemenstar has been cut to 4/1 joint-favourite with Bobs Worth for Cheltenham's major prize.
He'll be clear market leader after he defeats Sir Des Champs again, although the latter will be better suited to the extra four furlongs.