Friday 15 December 2017

Sprinter Sacre facing simple task on Cheltenham comeback

EXCITING chaser Sprinter Sacre could make his seasonal return in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham on Sunday. The Nicky Henderson-trained six-year-old is set to have his first run outside novice company on his return to action in the two-mile contest.

Sprinter Sacre went through his first campaign over fences in impeccable fashion with five straight wins, including the Arkle Trophy at the Festival in March.

He will have to give weight to all his rivals, with the Philip Hobbs-trained Wishfull Thinking his most high-profile possible opponent.

Doeslessthanme is the sole entry for champion trainer Paul Nicholls, while Irish hopes rest with Oliver Brady's Imperial Shabra.

Dublin trainer Pat Griffin will make a decision later in the week on whether Maggio will contest the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle on the same card.

The seven-year-old only won at Kelso on Saturday and is now back in Ireland and Griffin is wondering whether it may be asking too much to go back over to England so soon.

Maggio has his quirks, but he certainly has an engine as he showed when hacking up by 18 lengths at the Borders track last weekend. "We've given him the option so we'll just see. He's out in the paddock at the moment, recovering," said Griffin.

Reigning Champion Hurdle hero Rock On Ruby heads the entry for the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on December 1. Having been prepared by Nicholls' former assistant Harry Fry when winning the Champion Hurdle, Rock On Ruby is now in Fry's sole care. He was last seen finishing third to Oscar Whisky in the Aintree Hurdle.

Last season's Supreme Novices Hurdle winner Cinders And Ashes could represent Donald McCain, who has won the last two renewals with Peddlers Cross and Overturn.

Countrywide Flame, winner of the Triumph Hurdle in March, is another entry and will be race-fit, having gone close to winning the Cesarewitch for John Quinn when he last ran on the Flat last month. Also in the mix is Henderson's Grandouet, which has been off for nearly a year.

Henderson has also entered Darlan and Cash And Go, both due to run this weekend. Noel Meade's Go Native, winner of the race back in 2009, is also in the mix along with Charles Byrnes' Trifolium. Fighting Fifth Hurdle – sponsor's bet: 7/2 Rock On Ruby, Grandouet; 5/1 Cinders And Ashes, Darlan; 10/1 Go Native, Cash And Go, Countrywide Flame; 14/1 Get Me Out Of Here; 20/1 bar.

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