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Last Updated: January 25, 2013 11:05am
Sprinter Sacre: Ready for Victor Chandler Chase
Nicky Henderson is thankful Cheltenham's big meeting on Saturday looks likely to beat the weather as it enables him to get Sprinter Sacre back in action in the rearranged Victor Chandler Chase.
Henderson had National Hunt racing's new superstar primed for Ascot last weekend, but the weather scuppered those plans and it looked like Festival Trials Day was heading in the same direction earlier in the week.
However, a mammoth effort by the groundstaff has given the meeting every chance and Henderson has been happy with Sprinter Sacre since his effortless win in the Tingle Creek Chase last month.
"He's absolutely 100 per cent and is ready to go," said Henderson.
"He had a routine check on Monday and was perfect so we are very much looking forward to it. Cheltenham has done wonders to get the meeting on and I think everybody is grateful for that.
"It was a pity Ascot went, but we're very pleased to get a run into him now. Everything has gone well since Sandown and we are very happy with him."
All through the summer, the Paul Nicholls-trained Sanctuaire was mentioned as a horse who could challenge Sprinter Sacre.
He looked awesome when winning at Sandown at the end of last season, but he was easily brushed aside in the Tingle Creek.
Since then he has got back on the winning trail at Kempton, showing a versatility previously unseen when battling back to win.
"We're fully aware of the task facing Sanctuaire, it looks a very tough ask," said Nicholls.
"But he showed at Kempton that he's not a one-trick horse and we'll give it another shot."
Somersby won the race at Ascot 12 months ago, beating the subsequent Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Finian's Rainbow.
He was trained by Henrietta Knight then but is now in the care of Mick Channon, although Knight still has an eye on proceedings.
Dominic Elsworth has ridden him for the past two seasons and will be on board once more.
"I'm looking forward to the race and getting him out this season," said Elsworth. I've sat on him and he's in great nick. He looks fabulous and I'm expecting a good run.
"He's not run this season but that shouldn't be too much of an issue. Obviously there's the Frankel of the jumps (Sprinter Sacre) to beat. We're taking him on and don't forget he (Somersby) beat Finian's Rainbow in this race last year and he went on to win the Champion Chase at the Festival.
"He's a horse that's class himself and I just hope he can run a nice race. He finally got a Grade One win in this race. He had been knocking on the door long enough so it was great for him to do it."
Evan Williams has been forced to step William's Wishes, who is unbeaten over fences, right up to the highest level after the handicapper put him up to 153 following his latest win at Sandown.
"Sprinter Sacre is a different class, and I can't think our horse is good enough in a Grade One with him in it," said Williams.
"It's very much a David and Goliath situation, but we are under no illusions that we will be able to continue our unbeaten record over fences.
"That said, he's the sort of horse who would love to get into a ding-dong battle with horses that are too good for him - he loves a scrap.
"Conditions are going to be atrocious, but maybe he might be able to handle it better than others. He's absolutely made of granite."