Empire Levant Can Upstage Stable Companion
SPRINTER SACRE is a horse I have harped on about for months now and I got on early in the Arkle ante-post market. I fully expect him to rout his opponents in the Game Spirit Chase on this, his last stop before Cheltenham. The race has been good to trainer Nicky Henderson and his winner from last year, French Opera, is also entered although the ground will dictate whether he’ll run or not. Sprinter Sacre is the top rated horse in the line up following his demolition of Peddlers Cross at Kempton. Sprinter Sacre is top class and it’d be no surprise were he a multiple winner of championship races in years to come so, although he will be a short price, follow him on Friday and lump on in the Arkle.
The rescheduled Betfair Hurdle is one of the most exciting races in the national hunt calendar and the Paul Nicholls trained Zarkander is the short priced ante post favourite. He looks the most obvious candidate in this two mile handicap hurdle but the value prices have now gone.
The two mile handicap hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival is usually a firm pointer, and four have made the cut, Get Me out of Here and Final Approach, Soldatino and Alarazi, but all are overlooked.
Five year olds have a terrific record in the race, a pointer to the chances of EMPIRE LEVANT and THIRD INTENTION. The Colin Tizzard trained Third Intention finished nine lengths behind Zarkander in the Triumph Hurdle and has the same 9lb in receipt at official weights here. He ran well in the Greatwood at Cheltenham, before an even better second behind leading Triumph contender Ranjaan and the run should have him sport on.
Empire Levant won a handicap by 28 lengths at Taunton, hard held. He then ran two days later and got out-battled by Rock on Ruby, who went onto to finish a narrow second in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, with the third Raya Star winning the Ladbroke. He is up 12lb but the trainer fancies his chances and he could be another with something in hand of the handicapper.
Another horse using this weekend for a prep race is BOBS WORTH for the in-form Nicky Henderson stable, a yard coming back from an impressive treble at Kelso on Wednesday. Bobs Worth will go for the RSA Chase en route from Ascot and has been impressive since switching to chasing. He outstayed Cue Card at Newbury, before finding only Grands Crus too good in the Feltham Chase at Kempton. He is progressing, and sets the obvious standard in a tricky race with plenty quality about it.
SWINCOMBE FLAME is a progressive handicapper who we tipped up here in the Lanzarote Hurdle and we’ll remain loyal here in a Class 2 handicap hurdle at Ascot. Up only 5lb, she should be good value for it.
The highlight at Ascot is the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase, over the extended two and a half miles. A specialist trip, may will look to use this as using this as a pointer towards the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, run over a similar distance. Last year’s winner Riverside Theatre turns out, as does the much hyped Kauto Stone, who carries a large reputation. However the value could lie with MEDERMIT, who comes here on the back of a terrific run in the Cheltenham Handicap Gold Cup in December. The Alan King trained horse won the Grade 2 Peterborough Chase, before finishing third in the Amlin Chase behind Master Minded and Victor Chandler Chase winner Somersby, The form of both looks good, and he should be a very tasty price. The trip looks ideal.
Newbury (Friday) 12.10 – Sprinter Sacre (Nap)
Newbury (Friday) 13.15 – Third Intention (Ew) & Empire Levant (Ew)
Ascot Saturday 1.50 – Bobs Worth
Ascot Saturday 3.00 – Medermit
Ascot Saturday 3.35 – Swincombe Flame
The Yorkshireman – Jack Milner @ JJMSports
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