As expected, Sprinter Sacre has been declared for Saturday’s Sodexo Clarence House Chase at Ascot despite the fact that another 10mm of rain fell on the course during Wednesday night, although clerk of the course Chris Stickels was happy to leave the going as soft, reporting the track to be in “good shape.”
The 2013 Champion Chaser’s stablemate French Opera was the only defection at the 48 hour declaration stage leaving a field of just five for the £125k Grade 1 contest run over two miles one furlong. Available in the ante-post market as big as 2-1 on Wednesday the mount of Barry Geraghty is now a top price 5-4 with Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power and Betway but anyone intent on opposing the nine-year-old will have their bet subjected to a rule 4 of 45p in the £ should connection decide not to risk the gelding on the day of the race.
After walking Ascot on Thursday morning Nicky Henderson was pleasantly surprised at how well the course had taken the rain, with the trainer saying: “To be fair I think it was acceptable at this stage and one hopes it is going to be better come Saturday. If they could have two dry days and we could out there and blow on it – it would be great. It can’t deteriorate from here whatever happens. We have no alternative so all being well we are going to go.”
The forecast for the next two days are for occasional sleety showers which, if correct, should see Sprinter Sacre join Dodging Bullets, Somersby, Twinlight and Grey Gold, something which every National Hunt enthusiast will look forward to with both relish and trepidation!