Sanctuaire's 17-length defeat of Somersby in a Grade 2 over C&D in April was a real eye-opener and he is capable of further improvement this season. However, he looks to be up against something special here in SPRINTER SACRE. Nicky Henderson's charge has won nine of his 11 starts under Rules and all five races over fences. His defeat of the smart Cue Card in last season's Arkle Chase at Cheltenham was simply breathtaking and he was equally impressive in another Grade 1 at Aintree in April. Already a hot favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, he should be too good for these. The others appear to be playing for places with Haydock winner Kumbeshwar preferred to Cheltenham second Doeslessthanme and the novice His Excellency.
Doeslessthanme (IRE) 2-1 (11-4) Pressed leader, led before 5th, not fluent 9th, headed after 4 out, kept on until outpaced approaching 2 out, soon no chance with winner in clear 2nd, 2nd of 6, 18l behind Wishfull Thinking (11-0) at Cheltenham 2m chs (2) sft in Nov.
Idarah (USA) 11-1 (10-11) Tracked leaders, headway on outside 2 out (usual 4 out), upsides last (usual 3 out), led on bit soon after, shaken up over 1f out, ran on well, won at Kelso 2m 1f hcp chs (2) sft in Nov beating Kings Grey (10-4) by 7l, 6 ran.
Kinkeel (IRE) 9-2 (10-7) Tracked winner throughout, hit 3 out, ridden and no impression next, finished tired, 2nd of 5, 46l behind Royaume Bleu (11-3) at Towcester 3m cnd hcp chs (0-95) (5) sft.
Kumbeshwar 7-4 (11-7) Keen tracked leader, led narrowly 3 out, ridden next, asserted towards finish, won at Haydock 2m grad ch (2) sft in Nov beating Domtaline (11-7) by 2 1/2l, 5 ran.
Sanctuaire (FR) 9-2 (11-2) Jumped well, set strong pace and made all, went well clear before 3rd, maintained strong pace, kept on strongly, unchallenged, won at Sandown 2m chs G2 (1) sft in Apr beating Somersby (11-6) by 17l, 8 ran.
Sprinter Sacre (FR) 1-7fav (11-4) Took keen hold, tracked leader after 1st, led 6th, clear after 8th, impressive, won at Aintree 2m nov chs G1 (1) gd in Apr beating Toubab (11-4) by 13l, 4 ran.
His Excellency (IRE) 17-2 (11-1) Held up in touch on inside, hit 10th, headway 3 out, effort when blundered next, soon ridden, flashed tail and weakened between last 2, 5th of 6, 19l behind Captain Conan (11-2) at Cheltenham 2m nov chs Grade 2 (1) sft in Nov.