Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 14:01 13/01/2015
Anyone passionate about National Hunt racing will be looking forward to the reappearance of the outstanding chase Sprinter Sacre in the Grade 1 Sodexo Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday, his first race since being pulled up at Kempton over a year ago with an irregular heartbeat, but his supporters could be in for another disappointment as trainer Nicky Henderson has made it clear that he will not risk his stable star should conditions at the track prove too testing, a distinct possibility due to an unsettled weather forecast for the next few days.
The nine-year-old son of Network had been an odds-on chance with bookmakers for the 2m 1f contest prior to Monday's declaration stage but can now be backed at 5-4 with several firms due the uncertainty over the gelding's participation at the Berkshire venue where overnight rain changed conditions to soft on Tuesday morning, and with a band of rain forecast for Wednesday evening into Thursday morning the ground is likely to deteriorate further before the runners go to post on Saturday afternoon.
In the absence of ' Sprinter ' the Paul Nicholls-trained Dodging Bullets would take over as a short priced favourite following his victory in last month's Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown but the inconsistent seven-year-old is not the type to take short odds about and at the 11-2 available with Ladbrokes the veteran Somersby offers better value in a race which could cut up to four or five runners with Twinlight from the Willie Mullins stable a far from certain starter.
Despite reaching the age of eleven Somersby looked as good as ever when runner-up to Dodging Bullets in that Sandown race and has run many of his best races at the course including when short-headed by Master Minded in this race in 2011 before going one better 12 months later when beating subsequent Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Finian's Rainbow. Unlike several potential rivals the ground should not be an issue for the son of Second Empire this weekend and the popular chaser is taken to roll back the year's to claim another Grade 1 victory.
Somersby 11-2 Ladbrokes 1 Point each-way ( 1/4 odds 1-2 )