Vote for Sanctuaire as big Nicholls hope for Sandown has the X Factor
20:18 GMT, 7 December 2012
The people at ITV will have you
believe that all this weekend's fireworks are reserved for the X Factor
final but, for National Hunt fans, there are two explosive chasers at
Sandown today for whom that description fits adroitly.
Both Sprinter Sacre and SANCTUAIRE
(Sandown, 3.05) boast the star quality that X Factor finalists can only
dream of, although the progression through the series of favourite James
Arthur does in a way mirror that of Sanctuaire.
Peter Scudamore's view
The Tingle Creek Chase provides the clash between Sanctuaire and Sprinter Sacre that we’ve been waiting for since the Spring and, with both unbeaten over fences, something has to give. My worry is the ground is going to play a part. Jockey Peter Buchanan, who landed the big race yesterday on Bold Sir Brian, described conditions on Sandown’s chase course as ‘hard-work ground’.
The big two have both had breathing operations in the past. You can never be totally confident how they will react in arduous going.
I’d also be concerned that the ground will negate the immense jumping of Sprinter Sacre. He is a horse with natural spring in his legs. His technique last year was outstanding and some of his leaps spectacular.
His defeat of Cue Card at the Cheltenham Festival was a piece of form to drool over. He has already shown the potential to be not only the most exciting steeplechaser in training but also the best pound for pound across the distance spectrum. Despite my concerns I can’t desert the Nicky Henderson-trained favourite.
A troubled soul at the start of the
series, the talented Arthur has prospered due to a strict regime of
rehearsal and training and much the same can be said of the headstrong
It is only in the past 12 months that trainer Paul Nicholls and his team has managed to resolve the physical and mental issues that were stopping his charge from ascending the chasing tree.
The result has been three unblemished chasing victories by an aggregate margin of 74 lengths, two of which were achieved at today's venue.
It is those front-running demolitions that Sanctuaire's supporters will put their faith in as he bids to see off the imposing claims of Sprinter Sacre.
Nicky Henderson's hot favourite is yet to taste defeat over fences.
A six-length defeat of Cue Card in the Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival looks all the more creditable given the runner-up's subsequent efforts.
However, Sanctuaire's experience of the tricky Sandown fences could prove decisive in springing a mini surprise.