Cheltenham Festival

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26 Apr 12 12:08
Date Joined: 07 Jun 08
| Topic/replies: 1,437 | Blogger: bluebirdfan's blog
If Sprinter Sacre makes the race will surely be a small field? Just looking at the market on here and trying to think who will actually take him on? Ghizao is surely not good enough, Toubab chased in vain at Aintree but isnt up to Championship class. Will Cue Card stay at 2m or will they try again to step him up in trip? Can anyone see anything else that will prove good enough to take him on? Al Ferof will need further surely
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Report tomdeane May 6, 2012 9:19 PM BST
Hi R Carver, I'm doing well thanks. Been back in Canada for a few weeks now after my annual trip back for Cheltenham! Had a good meeting but as ever it should have been better - I hit three of my four big bets but gave a little more back than I should have done on races that I was less confident in. Maybe I'll learn next year... Hope you had a good meeting, and are doing well generally.

I just don't get the Sanctuaire stuff at all to be honest. Those that backed him at big prices before Sandown have every right to be feeling smug but I'm shocked that some people actually think he's at least as good as the highest-rated novice chaser Timeform have ever rated, just four weeks after that accolade being handed out, and on the back of one end-of-season win in a Grade Two at a track that suits tearaway front-runners.
Report FOYLESWAR May 6, 2012 9:34 PM BST
think the sanctuaire thing is that he could offer a bit of value ,sprinter around 6/4, sanctuaire around 13/1 and 5/2 to place ,with the distinct  possibillity of finians and sizing going over further, big zeb on the wain  and quality contenders a bit thin on the ground i think the value could be with sanctuaire and if he can improve a few pounds then he could emererg as a genuine contender for the top 2mile races next season.
Report sageform May 7, 2012 9:42 AM BST
I don't wish to be a prophet of bad news, but the main reason that I would not even consider backing SS at less than 3/1 for the 2013 QM is that only about 60% of the top horses stay sound and/or healthy between 2 Festivals, so although a fit and healthy SS would be a great bet at 5/4 if the race was run against the known opposition all running to their latest form, that almost never happens 10 months later. What if Peddlers Cross came back to his best? What if SS has a fall in a prep race? What if Seven Barrows gets the sort of virus that struck Ditcheat before the 2012 festival? All perfectly possible reasons why 5/4 could look very poor value. As far as Sanctuaire is concerned, I would wait to see what happens when he is taken on for the lead. He might just power away, he might just pack it in.
Report FOYLESWAR May 7, 2012 9:53 AM BST
yes sage agree ,also we dont know yet (as with sanctuaire ) what sprinter will find when the chips are down   in a head to head all out  battle with something who has the ability to go with him all the way to the line, when he was last faced with this type of scenario in the supreme he came up short . there may have been valid excuses . but we still dont know for sure  what he will find off the bridal .
Report CVByrne May 7, 2012 10:24 AM BST
sage I think in modern times the amount of top horses who make the festival is increasing. Very few winners of previous festival grade 1s fail to show up the following year. Lots of the top horses only get to the top by being sound and not injury prone.

As for Sanctuaire, the current price offers no value imo, it's more likely that he'll be shown up in tingle creek by Sprinter and drift, or have his Celebration Chase form shown as a Woolcombe Folly. Also it's important to remember Nicholls said he'd be better on a flat track. So his chances in a Champion chase may be very different to his chances in a Tingle Creek, like the fantastic Twist Magic.

Boat has been missed for this one, for good imo. If he wins Tingle creek he'll be fav for Champ Chase even though he may not like Cheltenham.
Report FOYLESWAR May 7, 2012 11:03 AM BST
sanctuaire  has won at the festival albeit  over hurdles which counts for something  ,  but as nicholls has stated, he may be better on flat tracks, but still encouraging that he has shown he acts at chelters and he was a decent hurdler who could be a much better chaser .all about opinions tho.
Report Steeplechasing May 7, 2012 11:03 AM BST
Those who believe Sanctuaire might crumble if taken on for the lead - would you care to nominate a horse able to do so or a jockey willing to chance it (unless they are in the race strictly to try and get him at it)? S Sacre wants holding up if BJG's tactcis so far are to be believed - he might decide to change those but is much more likely to view Sanctuaire as the ideal lead.

Given Sanctuaire's deadly accurate jumping so far, I'd be much more concerned about the horse who took him on than Sanctuaire himself. I haven't seen a horse jump Sandown at speed like that since Tingle Creek himself who had lots more experience than Sanctuaire.

In comparison with SS, you'd think Sanctuaire had suddenly done a Hunt Ball and people are having trouble taking evidence at face value. In fact, Sanctuaire was rated 1lb higher than SS over hurdles. He has won his 3 chases by an aggregate of 74 lengths (about 10 more than SS 5-race aggregate albeit SS running at a higher level).

I think Sprinter Sacre is a wonderful horse but his charisma and public appeal are greatly assisted by his fine frame - Sanctuaire looks like a Flat horse in comparison. But handsome is as handsome does. The horses are with the best trainers and have the top jocks riding them - no real advantage there. There is 2lbs between them in OR and Sanctuaire, with just 3 chase runs, arguably has more scope for improvement. To my eye, the Nicholls horse is by far the most economic jumper of the two. There has to be a slight concern that he might be more effective right-handed though he hasn't run a bad race in four visits to Cheltenham. All in all, 12/1 V 5/4 allied to the usual ante-post caveats of injury, virus etc.,(as mentioned by sageform) then the value lies in Sanctuaire.

Dyed-in-the-wool SS fans will deny this, but anyone taking as objective a view as is possible in racing, would, I think, be convinced and take the 12s.

Good luck.

BTW, Grands Crus would be much more likely to scare me in the QM so I hope he goes for the Gold Cup though, imo, he has no chance of getting the trip unless his running style becomes much more relaxed.
Report shockster May 7, 2012 11:13 AM BST
Excellent summary Steeple.  Nobody is stating Sanct will beat SS, but IMO that is where the value lies.
Report R Carver May 7, 2012 12:23 PM BST
Steeple - S Sacre may want holding up but he rarely has been over fences because nothing has been good enough to give him a lead. S Sacre was very comfortable out in front at Doncaster, Kempton, Newbury, Cheltenham and Aintree. I would put my last penny on Barry both seeing Sanc as the ideal lead but critically not giving him as much rope in the Tingle Creek as those did in the Celebreation.

Anything can happen to a horse's jumping on a given day. Solid jumper's sometimes make errors but on form, the facts are clear - Sprinter Sacre has jumped 62 fences at Doncaster, Kempton, Newbury, Cheltenham and Aintree. Sanctuaire has jumped 14 fences at Taunton (after Ludlow the easiest jumping track in the land) and the same 13 fences around Sandown twice. His experience of Sandown is conceivably an advantage (maybe even a big one) come Tingle Creek day but the onverall evidence from their jumping careers favours S Sacre. This is surely indisputable.
Report R Carver May 7, 2012 12:33 PM BST
You say that Sanc may have more scope for improvement than SS because SS has had more chase runs but teh alternative view is that S Sacre has more scope for improvement because he has fewer mile son the clock all told - 13 runs against (as far as I can tell) 16.

You say Sanc was rated higher on timber than SS but Sanctuaire had 11 runs over hurdles in the UK, including in handicap company, over 2 years, whereas Sprinter has 1 novice season that consisted of 4 runs, one of which saw him return home sick (Ascot) and one of which the trainer bent over backwards to disaude the owner from running him in, exposed an wind problem, saw him given a bad ride. Sure;y you do not believe Sprinter, if he had stayed over hurdles, woudl not have achieved a higher mark than he did (and probably higher than Sanc achieved)?

And as for the best round of jumping around Sandown, for me it was Demasta in April 2002, admitedly in a handicap, off a low mark - never trust Sandown form in April !! (I joke).
Report R Carver May 7, 2012 12:36 PM BST
Btw Steeple, I still stand by all my compliments of Sanc. After dismissing him, he has proven me (as most horses / bets do!) badly wrong. He has been a joy to watch and those with big prices have done brilliantly. I am not knowking the horse at all and he is at the very least a serious challenger. It is also nice you are back posting here. RC.
Report strontium May 7, 2012 2:30 PM BST
I'm not sure why people are describing Sandown as a flat track.... anthing but!
Report FOYLESWAR May 7, 2012 2:49 PM BST
right stront far away from being a flat track,   and sanctu has shown that he can handle chelt,not saying he will beat sprinter but he is a serious contender and is a fair value price  imo
Report CVByrne May 7, 2012 3:14 PM BST
To my eye, the Nicholls horse is by far the most economic jumper of the two.

Sorry Steeple, something baffling to me about this statement. Sprinter will never be economical with his jumping, he is utterly sensational. He has a spring that I have never witnessed ever on a horse. He's not a good jumper, he is by far the best jumper of a fence I have ever seen. He doesn't need a stride he can take off anywhere and still clear it running. It's utterly amazing what he does.

I believe Sanctuaire will give Sprinter a toe for a good part of the race before Sprinter is let a bit of rein and simply puts daylight between the two.

Personally I am confused by your confidence in Sancuaire, he has done nothing as yet to warrent it at all and I think you'll realise it was confidence misplaced next season. I'm very confident Sprinter is in a total different league to Sanctuaire and he will show it when they meet.

Simply put, Sanctuaire has shown no quality that I believe Sprinter doesn't surpass him in.
Report sj May 7, 2012 5:17 PM BST
How is Sanct now value? Impressive as it was it was Sandown(wouldnt be the first time a Nicholls horse was class there and poor at Chelts) and you had two unrealiable horses behind him. You could of got at least 33-1 before his last run. Value? No way
Report FOYLESWAR May 7, 2012 7:08 PM BST
he was better value at 50s before sandown its all about opinions sj you may think sprinter sacre is value ! thats up to you but at this stage at the prices and considering what can happen in nh racing and with 10 months till the queen mother chase i would rather have the 14 on here to win and the 3.5 to place sanctuaire but thats just the way i see it ,been wrong plenty of times before tho.
Report Steeplechasing May 7, 2012 7:46 PM BST
RC, thanks for your kind comments. I stopped posting here some time ago due to the number of rude and sometimes abusive posters - none aimed at me but at others. The AP forum was civilised for a long time and then seemed to go rapidly downhill. Anyway, I hope it's back near its best now and good on you and the other regulars for persevering - a feat I found beyond me.

You make a perfectly fair point about hurdles form and I happily accept that, eventually, SS would almost certainly have been superior to Sanctuaire over hurdles.  It's worth clarifying at this point that I am not a long-time Sanctuaire fan - I've backed him twice in my life; last time out and ante-post for the QM. But what I saw in him when winning his first two over fences was a horse who had suddenly found what he was born for. 

The angle I was taking with the hurdle rating comparison was to drive home the fact that this is a talented horse; Sanctuaire didn't suddenly become good just because a fence was put in front of him - granted he became a lot better, but he'd already proved himself a very decent, if moody performer over hurdles. Of course we can't be certain that the 'quirks' won't return over fences but if you've ever seen a more enthusiastic novice chaser, let me know its name.

I believe there is a very strong possibility that the horse simply resented restraint - front running as much as fencing might easily be the reason he has rediscovered his mojo.

CVB, I don't know how long you've been watching racing but if SS is the best jumper of a fence you've ever seen, you probably didn't see the likes of Mr Frisk, to name but one. SS is a good jumper in general although he regularly screws in the air, sometimes lands rather awkwardly (needing to be gathered up and straightened by BJG) and occasionally he leaves his hind legs quite low in the birch, a habit that did for Long Run although SS is nowhere near as bad as he is at it. Yes, he is spectacular at times and with such a superb looker, these are the jumps which tend to stick in the memory. But Sanctuaire has already shown that jumping straight and landing running are where he excels although he too can be spectacular with little if any loss of efficiency - have a look at his treatment at the open ditches (2nd and 6th) last time.

You say Sanctuaire has done nothing to warrant confidence but that can only be based on the premise that nothing bar him (and Dan Breen) ran to form at Sandown.  Hand on heart, had SS demolished that field in the same fashion, would you be saying nothing ran to form except him?

sj, I believe, in a straight comparison with SS, Sanc is still the value with totesport at 12s for the QM although I have backed him at a bigger price. He's already a festival winner (and a very easy one at that)and ran well again at Cheltenham when 8th of 23 in the Greatwood carrying 11.12.

Anyway, we all have the anticipation to help carry us through what is laughingly called the summer. We'll have more than Christmas to look forward to in December.

Good luck.
Report R Carver May 7, 2012 8:24 PM BST
Thanks for the kind words Steeple. I agree that the level of aggression and personalised nature of some comments is very depresing at times, but some of the excellent judges and some great reasoned arguments keep me coming back.

If Nicholls can transform Sanctuaire into a CC winner, it will be a feat of Pipe-esque proportions IMO.I agree he was a classy hurdler, but I do not think they expected a prospective C Chaser for one second. That would be some transformation. Oddly, when he won in April he reminded me (I do not know why) of the great Well Chief. Obviously they went about their business in very different ways, but something about the economy over a fences and the relentless gallop to the line.
Report strontium May 7, 2012 8:27 PM BST
I was standing right by that first open ditch. It's a spectacular place to watch horses jump. Sanctuaire really put in a big one. One of the racecourse photographers who was also by there told me he jumped out of the top of his picture!

Coincidentally I was also standing there the first time he jumped round Sandown and as I recall he was immaculate then too.
Report CVByrne May 7, 2012 10:38 PM BST
I have to laugh Steeple at you trying to pick holes in Sprinter Sacres jumping, I mean seriously this smacks of wanting Sanctuaire to be better than he is. You seem a bit desperate. Would you be so kind as to tell me which race and what fence he makes these jumping mistakes in?

You say Sanctuaire has done nothing to warrant confidence but that can only be based on the premise that nothing bar him (and Dan Breen) ran to form at Sandown.  Hand on heart, had SS demolished that field in the same fashion, would you be saying nothing ran to form except him?

As for this, Sprinter Sacre has demolished the field in 2 grade 2s and 2 grade 1s. If he demolished the Celebration Chase field it'd just be another pointless demolition job in his early career. The race that mattered was the Arkle, he won it at a canter. Plenty of horses win meaningless races well, but important races when you are the favourite is a different story.

As I've said in this thread already, when Sprinter was awesome at Kempton beating Peddlers then he "arrived" on the scene, he was tested properly twice after that and confirmed himself a cracking horse. Sanctuaire has just "arrived" with his Celebration Chase win, he has yet to confirm it.

Sanctuaire has plenty to prove, far more than Srpinter Sacre has.
Report Steeplechasing May 7, 2012 11:42 PM BST
CVB. you are twisting my words. I'm not 'picking holes in his jumping'. I said in general he jumped well. The comparison we were making - specifically - was against Sanctuaire's jumping.  I watched SS's Kempton, Aintree and Arkle performances again before posting and suggest you do the same if you want evidence of what I said.

And you avoided my straightforward question: had SS demolished the Sandown field in the way Sanc did, would you have written off the form as you are doing with Sanc? It isn't a tough question, is it?
Report CVByrne May 8, 2012 11:15 AM BST
We never seem to share the same views do we Steeple Laugh

I wasn't writing off Sancts performance, I said it was his breakthrough, as in he's now on the scene. It's the same as Sprinters Kempton romp at Christmas, but Sprinter then went out and won the Game Spirit at a canter and the Arkle at a canter, so he confirmed the Kempton win was not a one off. Sanct has yet to do that, we'll need to see him do it again to guage if he's the real deal or not or is it a Woolcombe Folly.

Anyway, Sanctuaire has certainly spiced up the 2m Chase Division. I'm really looking forward to the Tingle Creek now. All the best mate Happy
Report sj May 8, 2012 5:33 PM BST
I'm not saying SS represents value at 5-4 this long out, but given a free bet i would rather back SS. Think people are getting carried away with the celebration chase win as good as it was, nobody was shocked that Sanct wasnt even entered for the Arkle
Report wellchief May 8, 2012 6:03 PM BST
With out doubt Sanctuaire looks to be Nicholls' number one for the Champion Chase, but I'm also interested in Tataniano, if he can come back to his best next year.

On good ground at the Festival I think he'd have a good each way chance at the least and was second fav for the Tingle Creek when he was ruled out injured last year (Ruby had been booked for the ride on him ahead of Kauto Stone).

He's thrown in the odd disappointing run in the past, but his handicap win in his last run at Chepstow was excellent, and his Maghull Novices G1 win at Aintree was superb.

He is also now rated 166 (169 initially after his Chepstow win), but his 166 rating only puts him 1 lbs behind Sanctuaire and is 46/1 on here. 

I do accept there are doubts about fitness, possible step up to 2m4 and probably suited to somewhere like Aintree, and I maybe looking for an angle that doesn't exist, but he is one that interests me at a big price.
Report buddeliea May 9, 2012 7:48 AM BST
Thats cos he aint value at 5/4 SJ,that is plainly obvious.
However Sanctuaire may well be at his price,and imo is.
As i have said before Sanct has thrashed the horse that beat the QM winner,SS has beaten Cue Card!! and was given the Arkle when Al Ferof his main challenger fecked up.

Those are the facts,so for me when it comes to the value at this stage,its a no brainer.
Report CVByrne May 9, 2012 9:15 AM BST
Even if Al ferof had jumped the fence he still would have had no chance. Look what Menorah did to him at Aintree. The best pointer for the Champion Chase is the previous years Arkle, simple as that. When a horse wins the Arkle in the manner Sprinter did he's a huge fav for the Champ Chase.

I just wished people would learn from their past mistakes. The amount of bullishness behind Sanctuaire by some on this thread is daft, stupid and a repeat of previous horses in previous seasons. Sanct had one promising win, he will need to back that win up before he deserves any of the bullishness shown by some in this thread.

He is ony a "contender" because he avoided Sprinter Sacre twice this season. Sprinter is the most impressive novice 2m chaser any of us have ever seen. No horse wins the key races with the ease he has this season. Anyone who doesn't think he is a huge favourite for the Champion Chase next year is a complete daft fool.

So please, when people are AGAIN proved wrong, please try to learn from it this time ok. Mischief
Report FOYLESWAR May 9, 2012 9:41 AM BST
yes cv  sprinter sacre is the most likely winner of the champion chase and i am not saying he wont win  the betting tells us that,but is he value now  at around 11/8 for a race 10 months away? to some he may be but we all have our opinions  ? if you got fancy prices before he won the arkle then you have a decent value bet to look forward to and well done  and good luck with it !
Report FOYLESWAR May 9, 2012 9:44 AM BST
^^^ should read  fancy prices for next years champion before he won the arkle ^^^
Report buddeliea May 9, 2012 12:14 PM BST
Talking about value right now CV,not the most likely winner in a years time.

And stop being so condescinding!! You are making a bit of a habit of that when people argue a case with you.

You really think Al Ferof showed his true form at Aintree?? The horse just behind the QM winner at Ascot!!

Also you have absolutely no proof as to what would have happened in the race had AF jumped that fence well,just opinion,so to say he would have had no chance is wrong and a guess.
Report buddeliea May 9, 2012 12:48 PM BST
CV,having just had a pop at youGrin,i will say that i totally agree about the Arkle being the best pointer to the following QM,but i also think the previous QM is massively important too.Both have been proved vital over the years.
I do think that we all know the rules for looking at the potential QM winner,but sometimes to get value it may pay to look elsewhere,especially when that involves a horse that is improving and looks to have tremondus potential.Just cos  a horse dont run in the Arkle or QM does not mean he cannot win or be deemed to be value in the following years QM,it maybe determines the pecking order but with near on a year to go the price is all important.
Report R Carver May 9, 2012 1:28 PM BST
Budd - BJG is on record saying FR improved 20lbs from Ascot to the QMCC.

I am not sure how many llbs he improved, but improvement stands to reason (the trainer peaks in March, not in the VCC, and the horse apparently had residual issues from the error at Kempton) - I do not believe FR vs AF at Ascot should be taken literally when examining their subsequent exploits. I do not think the Ascot run means if he had not made an error at Cheltenham he would have landed a blow at CHeltenham. I do not think AF's proximity at Ascot to the subsequent QMCC winner gives an indication of how good Menorah must be.

I think AF is a cracking prospect albeit with questions to answer but no doubt exists in my mind he was flattered by FR at Ascot. Do you agree?
Report FOYLESWAR May 9, 2012 1:56 PM BST
a good point r.c( and one to remember next season)  on finians improving 20pounds on ascot to the queen mother ,probably an exageration from bjg but defo improved and this is a point i touched on in another thred regarding hendos top horses most(not all ) improve at least  7-10 pounds at the festival so a seemingly dissapointing prep as in finians at ascot and bobs worths 3rd at the same course for example must not be taken literally and the expected improvement taken into account when assesing his horses festival  chances.
Report sj May 9, 2012 4:23 PM BST
Dont see how one run however good it was against horses who are far from consistant on a track like Sandown makes him value
Report buddeliea May 9, 2012 5:03 PM BST
Budd - BJG is on record saying FR improved 20lbs from Ascot to the QMCC.

I am not sure how many llbs he improved, but improvement stands to reason (the trainer peaks in March, not in the VCC, and the horse apparently had residual issues from the error at Kempton) - I do not believe FR vs AF at Ascot should be taken literally when examining their subsequent exploits. I do not think the Ascot run means if he had not made an error at Cheltenham he would have landed a blow at CHeltenham. I do not think AF's proximity at Ascot to the subsequent QMCC winner gives an indication of how good Menorah must be.

I think AF is a cracking prospect albeit with questions to answer but no doubt exists in my mind he was flattered by FR at Ascot. Do you agree

Hi RC,
Well,i agree with FR being trained to peak at Chelt and improving from Ascot,of that i have no doubt.I also think Al Ferof was ridden very carefully that day and was fairly wide a lot of the way,and i also think he was not 100% either.Yes its probable he was flattered at Ascot considering what happened after re Finians,but really my point with CV's remarks is that i think it unfair to judge AF on his run at Aintree,totally unfair.

You make a point re Finians having an issue after an error at Kempton,well surely that could apply to AF at Aintree after his error at Chelt.

In the Arkle AF was going as well as SS,well visually to me he was,when he made a race ending blunder,so unfortunately we will never know what would have happened had he not.

For me the jury's well and truly out as re Al Ferof,and he needs to be seen next season before making judgement.
Personally i saw enough last season to think he can be competitive at the top 2m races next season on tracks that are not flat,ie Sandown and Chelt,as long as hes ridden off the pace,and not as he was at Chelt and Aintree.
Weather thats how hes campaigned though i aint sure,certainly the general feeling is he will be stepped up,and that may well see him at his best,we shall have to wait and see on that one.
Report buddeliea May 9, 2012 5:33 PM BST
Maybe you should look at Sanctuaire as most seem to be looking at SS and judge on visual impression.
I was at Sandown and have also watched it on TV,and imo that performance from the horse was visually as good as any that i saw from SS last season.
As for the opposition he faced,i would say Somersby is better than any horse SS faced last season,although i do take the point about consistency,and i do appreciate it came at the end of the season.
Still,all things cosidered,i think it fair if someone thinks Sanctuaire is value compared to SS.
May get proved horribly wrong of course.
Report R Carver May 9, 2012 6:57 PM BST
Budd - I agree re AF. I would not judge him on Aintree or the Arkle, though I suspect he ran pretty straight at Ascot. I believe he had little hope in teh Arkle but certainly he lost all hope with the error, and who knows what woudl have been. I would be surprised if he ended up at the end of next yr having 2m as his best trip. I do not think he has much of a chance against good 2 milers but if they can get him spot on, he can be useful over further IMO (Ruby said after Ascot that he would be a good KG ride in 2012). I only mention Kempton to say that FR apparently was still feeling himself at Ascot having made that awful error - it is quite possible Al F was feeling his Arkle error at Aintree.
Report FOYLESWAR May 9, 2012 7:05 PM BST
yes that was a bad error in the arkle ,i will look at it again but from memory he seemed to land on the fence ,who knows what it did to him and his confidence ,but plenty of time to get him right for next season .
Report buddeliea May 9, 2012 7:32 PM BST
yep,plenty of time indeed,just hope that error aint left a mark.
It would be great if he fulfils the potential i feel he has,after all for all we know he may well have given SS a real race in the Arkle.
Hopefully next season he can prove me right to have the faith i have in him.
Report FOYLESWAR May 9, 2012 8:03 PM BST
just looked at the mistake again on and it was a real bad one really knocked him back! seemed to land on the fence  the cards hadnt been played up to then and no telling what would have happened if he had jumped cleanly, anyones guess! but race over immediatly for him then and you can run a line through this performance . and probably feeling the effects at aintree .
Report buddeliea May 10, 2012 7:38 AM BST
exactly how i se it Foyles,and thats why i prefer to use his earlier performances when judging the horse,thats only fair really.But its next year that will tell us what hes really about.
Report bavtcc May 10, 2012 9:14 AM BST
Is Al Ferof going to stay over 2miles? I was pretty sure till I read this that he was going over further. And without any doubt in my mind he needs to be going over further.
Report strontium May 10, 2012 10:52 AM BST
I agree - I'd be surprised if he ever runs over 2 m again though I'm not sure what his ideal trip is yet. I'm perfectly happy to write off the Aintree run when he clearly wasn't himself.
Report CVByrne May 10, 2012 12:59 PM BST
Watch out for Cue Card next year, top horse and will be excellent over 2 1/2 mile trips. Pity he's rated so highly at he would be a snip in the Paddy Power if running off about 150. Still though if he is running off around the 11 stone mark with something rated in high 160s on top weight he'd still be very interesting imo.

Prob stick to the graded route tough with him I'd imagine. Lovely oss.
Report FOYLESWAR May 10, 2012 1:10 PM BST
have been considering him   for the king george cvb  stamina will have to be taken on trust  but  well worth a go and a huge  win and place  price on here  imo.
Report CVByrne May 10, 2012 1:30 PM BST
King George looks a crackin race already. Kauto will defo retire after it imo.
Report buddeliea May 10, 2012 5:17 PM BST
yeh lads,yer probably right he will be stepped up,but i know i am in a minority here,but i still feel that Al Ferof could challenge over 2m against the big boys if conditions are right ie at Cheltenham with a good pace.
Still,what i want to see dont really matter,its what the horse needs thats important.

Agree re Cue Card over 2 and half,although i may be a tad concerned about his jumping in big races,still not 100% convinced hes a natural,hes a talented horse though.
Report strontium May 10, 2012 5:34 PM BST
Are any horses not going for the King George? Grin

Budd - perversely his best chance of getting a strong pace in the Champion Chase would seem to be Sanctuaire - who could be a reason he'd run elsewhere. Assuming SS stays fit it could well be another small field.
Report buddeliea May 10, 2012 6:18 PM BST
Laugh Biggest KG field ever

good points Stront,probably 2 good reasons why i wont get what i wantSad
Although maybe Nicholls might want more than one shot at SS!!
Just never know.
Report CVByrne May 10, 2012 7:52 PM BST
Al Ferof 100% stepping up in trip, Nicholls has said that. Prob go Gold Cup.
Report shockster May 10, 2012 9:20 PM BST
First little test of Sanctuaire Sandown form tomorrow. Dan Breen 3rd at Sandown and apparently the horse that gave Sanctuaire his rating runs in a decent handicap 2.55 Market Rasen.

Might just add to the debate.Excited
Report buddeliea May 11, 2012 7:47 AM BST
Gold Cup eh,well if he stays hes interesting at current price.
Whatever,i shall back him for the festival,think hes tailor made for the course.
Be it Gold Cup,Ryanair or the QM.
Report CVByrne May 11, 2012 10:17 AM BST
He may end up in the Ryanair next year, but he'll be tried at 3m for sure, maybe Argento to see if he stays the trip. Nicholls only has What a Friend for the Gold Cup that I can think of. Sil Conti is a flat track horse.
Report shockster May 11, 2012 11:24 AM BST
Nicholls also has The Minack which looked progressive and I'd be surprised if he didn't try Cristal Bonus over 3m+.
Report CVByrne May 11, 2012 12:25 PM BST
Cristal Bonus has run well given he needs soft, I'd imagine him to improve next season and improve for soft ground in autumn.
Report CVByrne May 11, 2012 12:41 PM BST
Was reading this and thought it'd be interesting in regard to Sanctuaire and touches on why I do not put much fait in the Celebration Chase for as being any way solid or reliable.

by David Renham

For this article I am going to revisit the whole question of pace or running
styles with focus being on front runners. For the last four or five years the
question of “pace” in a horse race is something that has become quite a
hot topic. In the Racing Post for example, it is not unusual to read such
comments as “all the pace is high so I expect high draws to prevail” or
“there is plenty of pace in the race, which could set the race up for a
finisher”; or “**** is the only confirmed front runner and hence could get
a soft lead in front”.
Knowing how a race is likely to “pan out” in terms of a “pace angle” can
give punters a valuable insight for a variety of reasons:
1. Some course and distances do strongly favour horses that front run /
race up with the pace; likewise there are plenty of others where front
runners really struggle. Knowing this information can give you the extra
confidence to back a selection, or indeed steer you clear of another.

2. Knowing how a race is likely to be run in terms of how much pace
there is in the race makes it easier to spot horses that may get a soft
lead, for example. Horses that get a soft lead have a much better chance
of winning as their jockey should be able to set the ideal pace from the
Conversely you may have a race with 3 or 4 confirmed front
runners. In this case, the chances are that the front runners will go off
too quickly as they try to dominate each other and hence the race is
often set up for a horse coming from off the pace.
Report shockster May 11, 2012 12:55 PM BST
Not sure he got a soft lead CVB.  Just nothing could live with him.  He wasn't the only horse that wanted to lead.
Report CVByrne May 11, 2012 1:05 PM BST
Laugh He got what is the utter definition of a soft lead shockster. No other horse wanting to be up with the pace meaning he gets to dictate on his own.
Report shockster May 11, 2012 1:20 PM BST
Don't agree CVB, he just was too fast for them. SS IMO is still the one to beat, but I think you underestimate Sanctuaire.
Report shockster May 11, 2012 1:23 PM BST
Actually, 4 across the track jumped the 1st at Sandown and Sanct was clear by the 2nd. Couldn't live with him.
Report CVByrne May 11, 2012 3:01 PM BST
Shockster, it's not a point of dispute, it's a fact he had a soft lead. This isn't something that is a matter of opinion.

When there is only 1 front runner and nobody is disputing the early lead then the front runner is allowed to set his own pace. This is the definition of a soft lead.

This definition is exactly what happened at Sandown with Sanctuaire. His jumping put them to the sword after the 3rd onwards. But early he was let the lead and nobody intended to dispute it.
Report shockster May 11, 2012 3:22 PM BST
We'll have to agree to differ then.  You say soft lead and I'll say they couldn't do the pace.  Soft lead in my book, is when a horse goes to the front and the rest queue up behind pulling because they don't want to lead. The jockey then dictates the fractions quickening and slowing as they see fit.
Report R Carver May 11, 2012 3:23 PM BST
Dan Breen did little for the form there. I imagine he is way over the top (as I imagine he and others were at Sandown).
Report CVByrne May 11, 2012 3:49 PM BST
Soft lead is not that Shockster, you can have your own definition of soft lead if you want. But in racing when people use the term it's to describe an uncontested lead early.
Report shockster May 11, 2012 4:04 PM BST
CVB - 4 went over the first together.  Ask yourself this, did they let him go or could they not keep up. It wasn't as if he poached 20L at the start as I have said 4 went across the first together. Have you watched it again?
Report R Carver May 11, 2012 4:21 PM BST
Trying to arbitrate here - could his early burst of speed have allowed him to develop what was then a soft lead?
Report FOYLESWAR May 11, 2012 4:30 PM BST
the tingle creek should answer the questions just hope all the key players  line up !!
Report FOYLESWAR May 11, 2012 4:32 PM BST
then again most if not all of sanctuaires best performances have come in the spring so possible nicholls keep a lid on him till then ?
Report R Carver May 11, 2012 5:27 PM BST
I suspect not Foyles. The horse seems to enjoy Sandown and I imagine PFN would dearly love to knock SS off his perch.
Report buddeliea May 11, 2012 6:37 PM BST
Well,soft lead or not,what i am pretty sure of watching that race,is that Sanctuaire went off at a pace that was too quick for the others to keep up with.
Whether that means hes the next Pegasus is another matter,but hes certainly exciting for next season,and does give a viable option to the short priced fav for the QM.
So alls good for us Chelt fanaticsHappy
Report Steeplechasing May 11, 2012 10:57 PM BST
CVB, why is your definition of a soft lead a matter of fact and not up for dispute? My interpretation of a soft lead is when all but one of the jocks sleep at the start - by accident or design, gifting a horse a very generous start at little cost of expended energy to the leader.

As has been pointed out, this was not the case at Sandown. Now, after the second fence DJ's rivals might have taken a decision that he had gone off at an unsustainable pace, but that is not a soft lead. There is no softness in it for the leader, he has had to use up considerable energy at that point in the race to build that lead.

Did Sanctuaire's rivals decide collectively that Sanctuaire had gone off too quickly? How do you know they simply concluded that they did not feel they could safely take on such an accurate jumper going at a pace that would put their mounts outside their comfort zone at such an early stage? In that scenario it is an admission by the other riders that they would not be confident their mounts could hack it in close pursuit.

Another regular feature of soft lead races is that the pack close relentlessly and quickly on the leader close home but leave it too late to catch him.

I repeat what I mentioned in an earlier post: Sanctuaire was well fancied - he was not a big outsider who could have been expected to fold quickly and easily. Nor did the pack appear to believe they could sit quitely till the second last or after it - most of them were being pushed along leaving the back straight a strong endorsement of the final time clocked by the winner.

Lastly but significantly imo, neither Timeform nor the RP summarisers made any mention of a soft lead.

Perhaps then not quite so clear cut as you'd have us believe?
Report buddeliea May 12, 2012 6:03 AM BST
As im up at such an ungodly hour,i may as well do something,so i will add my bit to the debate.

Must admit ive never really thought about the definition of a soft lead,but thinking about it now,i guess when a horse has his own way up front and is able to dictate things on his own terms it could be described as a soft lead by people,but for me its all about how and why it happened that a horse got a good lead,and what happened at the end of the race.
imo if a horse gets a flyer and catches horses napping a tad,that to me is definitely a soft lead,however if horses go off more or less together and one just moves ahead at a pace the others dont want to,it then comes down to what happens at the business end.If the horses are catching the leader at the end then it could be said they gifted the leader a soft lead,but if they are struggling from some way out to reduce the gap and fail to get near him at the end than imo thats not a soft lead,thats just one horse being a lot better than the rest.
Of course thats just how i see it,but i do think it fair to conclude that opinions can differ on this.
Reading this thread,that does appear to be the case,with well informed people differing.
Report tomdeane May 12, 2012 8:58 AM BST
^ Agreed - to me a soft lead is one in which a horse is not hassled by any of the other runners, regardless of whether it is leading by virtue of being too good for the others or if it the jocks have made an error of judgment and given it too much rope. So in that sense, I think Sanctuaire did get a soft lead. Although I think the others gave him too much rope initially, to the midway point, I agree that nothing was able to live with him from that point and couldn't get within a country mile. I still think he was hugely flattered because I think the others all ran a long way below form, and, as was pointed out a few posts back, Dan Breen certainly didn't do anything to suggest otherwise yesterday.

One thing that has not really been asked yet (I don't think, I've only been dipping in and out of this one) is whether Sanctuaire will fall to pieces if he is taken on. Surely even his most ardent supporters can't believe he is the fastest horse in training, so something would be able to live with him if it is asked to, and for a horse with known quirks, he might not be the most tractable if he does get harangued up front.

As I've said before, personally, I don't think it really matters. I think Sprinter will eat when he wants. And Finian's too.
Report CVByrne May 12, 2012 9:22 AM BST
Yeah it's fence 3 where it it becomes game over, Dan Breen and Somersby jump badly left and lose 5 lengths on Sanctuaire and all the other horses jump slowly as they have the other two horses in their path now on the other side of then fence.

The point of this is he certainly won't be getting any kind of soft lead against Sizing Europe and Finians Rainbow who are always up there. While Sprinter Sacre will love the fact he gets a toe round as it may help him settle and if that happens he'll win easily.
Report buddeliea May 12, 2012 2:53 PM BST
He MAY win easily,that depends on how good he is.At the moment i see no evidence that says hes better than Sanctuaire,let alone the horses that fought out the finish of the QM.
For one thing we still aint see what SS will find in a battle,thats if he ever does have a battle!!
Yes,hes looked mighty impressive,but still a fair bit to prove against the best around.
Report Masterminded May 12, 2012 5:31 PM BST
Sprinter will canter past Sanctuaire. People need to realise horses are trained to their absolute best to run at Cheltenham. By the time Sandown comes around the horses are knackered. While I would never take anything away from Sanctuaire he was trained for the race & ridden aggressively to take tired horses  out of their comfort zone on testing ground. He jumped superbly and it was a great Sandown performance. BUT... If that field had lined up in the Arkle in that condition they would have been beat by half the track. I can't spot another horse that jumped or traveled throughout. Sanctuaire is a lovely horse but Sprinter could possibly be the best 2 mile chaser we have seen. I'm not saying go back him at 5/4 or what is or what isn't value but I disagree with some of the ratings & opinions claiming Sanct is as good as Sprinter etc. when you see what Dan Breen has gone on to do. It's dodgy form at best.
Report tomdeane May 12, 2012 10:22 PM BST

Is there a danger that you are trying too hard not to usher in Sprinter as the very good horse he is? I say this because I know you fought Al Ferof's corner all winter and seemed determined not to rate Sprinter as highly as he deserved. I did for much of the season before I had my 'Eureka' moment after his Newbury romp.

Can't believe you see no evidence to him being better than Sanctuaire. I know you are a big Al Ferof fan, so wonder how you would price up a race featuring the three of them?
Report buddeliea May 13, 2012 8:37 AM BST
I dont think so Tom,i have never said SS is not a very good horse,he clearly is.
The way i look at horses when comparing them to others is when they meet.Until they do its all about opinions as to what may happen.
I still think Al Ferof would give SS a race over 2m at Chelt,the Arkle for me proved nothing against that with what happened halfway.My basis all last season for arguing the case for AF was the fact that i think hes a real cheltenham horse and i werent sure SS was,and unfortunately by taking off too soon we had ho conclusive evidence as to whether i was correct to think that,although obviously i got it wrong as re SS,although i would still be interested in his reaction should a horse challenge him up that hill,which i still maintain AF would have bar the error.
With Sanctuaire,until he meets SS for me the jury's out.
I do take the point about Sandown and the end of the season,and i agree,but that should not detract from the performance of Sanct,he could not have performed more impressively.Yes you can look at the horses in behind but one could do the same with SS,who imo has not beaten much.
Look,i aint saying who would win out of these 3 if they met,i leave that to others,and i aint pricing it up,they are all novices that will improve,i have no idea how much,nor does anyone else.
All i am saying is that i reserve judgement till i have proper evidence,for me i am not satisfied that one is better than the other from what ive seen.
Report tomdeane May 13, 2012 9:26 AM BST
Fair enough. I do agree with the point in general that you can never know how horses will shape up until they meet, I just think it's extremely unlikely that Al Ferof or Sanctuaire will bustle him up.

The niggling doubt that had always prevented me from jumping on the bandwagon was whether he would come up the hill as strongly as he did. I know some people point to the fact that he has never been in a battle and thus we don't know how much he would find. The problem with that line of thinking is that we need a horse fast enough and good enough to get him in one (and if Finian's and Sizing go elsewhere, there is no evidence as yet that there is one). Menorah is no world-beater but won a Supreme Novice and ran OK in a Champion Hurdle. He has a smashing Cheltenham record but was beaten at halfway in the Arkle despite having jumped fine to that point - a headache that hit many of this big black beast's wounded foes last season.

Perhaps more importantly is the likelihood that Sprinter will find plenty if needed. OK, he hasn't had to fight, but he came off the bridle for a few strides after the last in the Arkle and blitzed further away from Cue Card. He finished as strong as anything did all week, so I no longer worry that there are any weaknesses in him. The only way I see him getting beaten over two miles, assuming he stays injury free of course, is if something better comes on the scene. The likelihood that Sanctuaire is that horse, one who may well have to be better than the likes of Moscow Flyer, to me seems very remote indeed.
Report buddeliea May 13, 2012 9:53 AM BST
Thats the thing though Tom,for all we know there may be better than him now.

Look at all the races the top 2m horses around now have ran in.Then tell me with no doubt in your mind,that SS has the best form.You cant cos he dont.Its all about visual impression,has to be,and imo that is no better than the visual impression i got at Sandown the other week.
One horse is a lot bigger price than the other for the QM,and i think it was the value aspect that got Sanct being compared to SS on this thread.

Now the point about SS in a battle is imo very valid,cos as ive said i do believe AF would have got him into one in the Arkle,so although as you say Tom,their is no evidence we have a horse that can do that,their is definitely evidence that we could have,and its the unknown that can get us.
I am sure as one can be that both FR and SE would get SS working hard,and i also feel that both AF and Sanct are capable of that.
Of course i could be way out and SS will prove to be Pegasus,i do recognise that,but at this stage i aint as confident as others seem to be on that one.
Report wellchief May 13, 2012 11:43 AM BST
Assuming the big four make the race (I know the doubts about Finians, but assuming he lines up in the QMCC) I think the markets have got it pretty much spot on; but Tataniano should be up there assuming he is back next year.

Sprinter, without doubt, should be favourite, and Sanctuaire should be fourth favourite behind Finians and Sizing Europe.  Out of the four, Sanctuaire is the only one in my opinion that still has something to prove.

The others have all shown they can raise their game around Cheltenham in a Grade 1 Chase, and they have shown that their big wins are no "one race wonder"; they have done it time and time again.

Sanctuaire has to prove that his chase form will not just tail off like it did over hurdles.  There were quotes for Champion Hurdles after his Fred Winter win and then couldn't beat the 130 rated Orsippus at Aintree.  OK, Aintree form can be dodgy to say the least but then put in a string of poor performances, either side of his Scottish Champion Hurdle win.

For me, there is always a nagging doubt about the horse that he will spit his dummy out and run a shocker.  Yes, he looked epic when he won at Sandown, but can he repeat that?  I wouldn't be backing him at 12/1 for the QMCC, when there are an awful lot of questions to be answered.

People can say what they want about Sprinter, but he has never been pulled up, he's never just faded after the last and has never tailed off to finish last, miles behind the other runners; but Sanctuaire has.

In terms of Sanctuaire's win, I don't rate the form at all to be honest.  If you look at the runners he beat, all of them were either stuffed at Cheltenham or didn't run there because they weren't good enough. 

Because Sprinter has mainly beaten novices, the offical ratings of the ones he has beaten might not be as high as the ones Sanctuaire has beaten, but that's because novice ratings can fluctuate massively from run to run.

The Celebration Chase often throws up a few strange results.  Last year Chaninbar ran second, where his form figures were P74RRR.  The year before that I'm So Lucky (rated 146) beat Twist Magic rated 173 on his home turf.  Theey don't have any direct effect on Sanctuaire, but just to say a note of caution should be used when using the race as bare form, whereas everyone was trained to the minute in the Arkle, where usually the best horse in the race normally wins.
Report Masterminded May 13, 2012 11:50 AM BST
Trying to get Sprinter beat will leave you with empty pockets. There is no doubt he is the best chaser in training right now and he's open to more improvement. My advice would be fair enough if you can find an e/w alternative but it is hugely unlikely that there will be a better 2 mile chaser for years. Who knows he could go on to become the greatest.
Report wellchief May 13, 2012 11:53 AM BST

Should also just say that in no way am I writing Sanctuaire off for the QMCC.  Many horses are much better over fences than hurdles, so maybe using his hurdles form is a bit harsh.

Just trying to point out that he has been far from consistent, and may have had one or two temperamental issues in the past.

I think he has the raw ability to win, and I can see why some would back him because of the Sandown performance.  It could be that we are choosing to ignore what we have seen with our own eyes, and are talking ourselves out of backing the horse.

If he repeats that performance in the Tingle Creek, a few on here, including me, will have egg on their face.

It's just at the moment, I wouldn't go near him with my money until I've seen him run to the same level again, because as good as that performance was, he needs to be able to step it up again.
Report Masterminded May 13, 2012 11:58 AM BST
WC u are spot on
Report Steeplechasing May 13, 2012 1:06 PM BST
Given his easy victory over 2m 4f at Aintree and the fact that SS is in the yard, I strongly suspect FR will end up in the Ryanair (Prior to the QM NJH was already thinking of moving him up in trip). Sizing will be 11, Big Zeb 12, Somersby is thoroughly exposed: Cue Card and Al Ferof are almost certainly not good enough on present form - we must wait and see if one or both find considerable improvement.
Report sageform May 14, 2012 10:46 AM BST
I agree that SS deseves to be favourite but there are still so many unknowns.
Will he be the same horse next year?
How good might Al Ferof be if he gets back to his best (very few of Nicholls horses showed their form after January)?
What will the going be and which horses will benefit?

etc. etc.
Report R Carver May 16, 2012 6:50 PM BST
Budd - instinct to me always means more than weights and measures.
Report R Carver May 16, 2012 6:50 PM BST
Budd - instinct to me always means more than weights and measures.
Report R Carver May 16, 2012 6:50 PM BST
Budd - instinct to me always means more than weights and measures.
Report R Carver May 16, 2012 6:50 PM BST
Budd - instinct to me always means more than weights and measures.
Report R Carver May 16, 2012 6:50 PM BST
Budd - instinct to me always means more than weights and measures.
Report R Carver May 16, 2012 6:50 PM BST
What is your feeling about AF vs SS based on?

Sorry, PC problems persist so I will leave it there..
Report bluebirdfan May 17, 2012 1:15 PM BST
If Sprinter Sacre turns up 100% after a full campaign goes to plan he will win the Champion Chase, its that simple
Report FOYLESWAR May 23, 2012 10:19 AM BST
sprinter sacre has been given an official  rating of 169 ,finians rainbow 173,sizing europe 172, sanctuaire 166. the 2m division  looks one of the strongest and most exciting for years .plenty to look forward to !
Report strontium May 23, 2012 11:36 AM BST
Who knows? If the novices progress at a normal rate they should both be running 180-185 by the Festival next season making it more like a 2 horse race. On the other hand they may not progress much more (unlikley imo, especially for Sprinter). Sizing is presumably on the decline and there's a chance Finian's will step up in trip.
Report Howdi June 15, 2012 11:31 PM BST
Sprinter could win it with his c0ck hanging out imo.
Report strontium June 21, 2012 3:57 PM BST
Speaking of the Chamnpion Chase, please can someone give me a link to the full video of the 2008 race? I can't find it in any of the usual places. TIA.
Report neill d June 22, 2012 9:24 PM BST
Kauto's 09' Gold Cup can also be tough to find.
Report strontium June 22, 2012 10:22 PM BST
I believe Festival races from 09 are available on the Cheltenham Racecourse website (under Cheltenham TV) - before that it's very limited highlights.
Report asasas4 June 23, 2012 8:52 PM BST      free racing uk replays just search the date
Report strontium June 23, 2012 9:28 PM BST
Thanks for that, but they only go back to Jan 2009 (same as RUK site I think).
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