Jockey Barry Geraghy clears the final fence on Sprinter Sacre to win the Betfair Super Saturday Chase during the Betfair Free Friday at Newbury Racecourse, Newbury.

Sprinter Sacre can dash to victory at the Cheltenham Festival

Simon Jackson, London24 horse racing correspondent
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
8.36 AM

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Sprinter Sacre is fancied to justify favouritism and land the Racing Post Arkle Chase on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.

The Nicky Henderson-trained six-year-old barely gave his rivals a look-in as he stormed to success in a Grade 2 at the rearranged Newbury meeting last month to secure his seventh win in nine starts.

The manner of his six-length victory left a huge impression on his vastly experienced jockey Barry Geraghty who was effusive in his praise and he looks set to go off at around 10-11 today.

I’ve ever ridden anything like that – he’s electric,” Geraghty said. “He could be the best I have ever ridden. He’s mind-blowing.

“He makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. He is the real deal. He’s not amazing at home but when he’s on the track he jumps, travels and does everything so easily.”

The feature race of the first day is the Champion Hurdle which can go to Zarkandar, despite the absence of Ruby Walsh who has ridden him in his past two starts, and will be on reigning champion Hurricane Fly.

The Paul Nicholls trained five-year old will be ridden instead by the experienced Daryl Jacobs who guided him to an impressive win in the Triumph Hurdle here last year.

Zarkandar, a half-brother to unbeaten Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Zarkava, looks better with each run and is overpriced at the 7-1 on offer today.

Earlier in the day, Darlan is fancied to get punters off to a good start in the opening race at 1.30 and Hold On Julio is fancied in the 2.40 race.

Garde Champetre (16.00), and Quevega (16.40) are also fancied.

The next day Sizing Europe is hard to oppose in the Queen Mother Champion Chase following his 15 length win over second favourite Big Zeb at Punchestown last month.

For those looking for some good each way value elsewhere on the card, the answer may be 12-1 shot The New One in the Champion Bumper.