Sprinter Sacre leads the list of Champion Chase entries for what looks to be a vintage Punchestown Festival 2013
Sprinter Sacre may face his vanquished rivals Cue Card, Sizing Europe and Flemenstar in the Boylesport.com Champion Chase on Tuesday 23 April. After his imperious victories at Cheltenham and Aintree he may race once more this season at the Irish festival in the two mile chase. In the almost 200 years of the Festival history pundits and punters may ask a like if Henderson’s horse is to be the best to ever grace the meeting. If Sprinter Sacre does take up the engagement he is certain to start a short priced favourite whatever opposition turns up. The second in the Queen Mother Champion Chase Sizing Europe may sidestep another encounter with his trained Henry De Bromhead favouring a tilt at the Punchestown Gold Cup instead. Currently the former Cheltenham Festival Champion is quoted at 8/1 for the Gold Cup where this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup second Sir Des Champs heads the market at 2/1.
Cue Card and Flemenstar were both gallant in defeat behind Sprinter Sacre in the Melling Chase last week, but it would be hard to see a circumstance where they could reverse the placings with him. Their best chance of victory and the most likely will be if connections choose to miss the meeting waiting to next season to let their Champion race again. If that is their choice and the Punchestown Festival is deprived of seeing the undoubted best horse in training the race will become a more open contest.
Amongst the other possible contenders for the Champion Chase are the 2012 Cheltenham Festival Champion Finian’s Rainbow and recent Norman Grove Chase winner Foildubh. Finian’s Rainbow raced with more vigour in the Melling Chase and will continue to enjoy the improving ground conditions. Having beaten the progressive Day’s Hotel at Fairyhouse Foildubh will be a contender in some punters minds but may well still be outclassed by the other entrants.
Crockford hopes that the Punchestown Festival goers get the chance to see the best horse in training for one final time this season
(Featured photograph – Sprinter Sacre after his Cheltenham Festival win by Stuart Rice)
(Photograph – Sizing Europe at the Cheltenham Festival by Stuart Rice)