SPRINTER Sacre’s loss can be Sire De Grugy’s gain in tomorrow’s BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase on day two of the 2014 Cheltenham Festival (3.20pm).
The omission of Sprinter Sacre has robbed the Festival of one of its crown jewels but the injury to Nicky Henderson’s star at least opens the race up as a betting medium.
And Sire De Grugy, above, looks a pretty worthy favourite at around the 5-2 mark.
The eight-year-old has won his last three races with Gary Moore’s inmate particularly impressive when hacking up in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot last time.
With a mark of 169, he sets the standard for tomorrow’s contest and while several rivals are not rated far behind, unlike him, most of them are in and out of form. Hinterland – who has won his last two – could be a particular danger while Game Spirit Chase winner Module looks a big price at 16s but this is definitely Sire De Grugy’s gilt-edged chance to bag a big one.
We must await the final decs before conclusively analysing tomorrow’s other races but the opening Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle is guaranteed to be a cracker (1.30pm).
On the assumption that he is the Willie Mullins number one, the exciting Faugheen gets the vote but Red Sherlock looks a massive danger for David Pipe and Tom Scudamore.
Donald McCain’s exciting Corrin Wood also gets the vote in the RSA Chase (2.05pm) while the advice for the closing Champion Bumper is quite simply follow the money (5.15pm).
Something will probably be hammered in the betting and very likely the main Mullins representative, possibly Black Hercules, who may go off a well-backed favourite in a bid to send day two’s punters home in style.
Meanwhile, Captain Chris will miss Friday’s Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup and the rest of the season after suffering a setback, his trainer Philip Hobbs has revealed.
The 10-year-old has been in fantastic form this season, building on an encouraging comeback third in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon with brilliant victories at Kempton and Ascot. Despite his obvious preference for right-handed tracks, connections were looking forward to a second tilt at steeplechasing’s blue riband, having finished sixth 12 months ago.
Hobbs said: “He has a suspensory problem and won’t run again this season.”