The Christmas period is always a key one for National hunt fans ahead of the Cheltenham Festival and one of the most taking wins this season came from Sprinter Sacre. The Nicky Henderson horse was a good third place in the Supreme Novices Hurdle last campaign and he will now go back to the Festival with every chance of improving on that in the Arkle Chase. That comes after he hosed up to win the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton over Christmas with previous Arkle favourite Peddlers Cross left trailing in his wake. Peddlers Cross went into the race all the rage after a couple of impressive wins but he was simply run off his feet by Sprinter Sacre who produced an excellent gallop. The Arkle is already shaping up to be one of the highlights of the upcoming Festival and in Sprinter Sacre we look to have a worthy ante-post favourite.
There will be one or two doubters against Sprinter Sacre who will point to the fact he ran out of steam in the Supreme last season and that should be enough to keep the market lively over the coming weeks. Connections of Peddlers Cross are sure he was not at his best in the Desert Orchid and there are one or two suggestions that he might step up on trip after struggling for speed at Kempton. At the moment though he remains second favourite in the Arkle Chase Betting and any horse that runs Hurricane Fly close in Champion Hurdle has to be respected at the highest level. Anyone giving Sprinter Sacre a chance at the Cheltenham Festival must by the same token give Al Ferof a closer look in the Arkle betting. The Paul Nicholls grey went past Sprinter Sacre up the hill to win the Supreme Novices last season and so far has won two of two over the fences making him a real threat. Perhaps he has not been quite so impressive as the likes of Peddlers Cross and Sprinter Sacre but Al Ferof has form at Cheltenham and must not be ignored in what could be a classic Arkle.