Sprinter Sacre set to shine after Ruby dazzles Cheltenham
Cheltenham day two gets the go-ahead with the going good to soft after another freezing night
THE SECOND day of the Cheltenham Festival will go ahead as planned after an inspection of the course on Wednesday morning. The first day's racing was delayed by half an hour after the ground froze as England experienced some of its coldest March weather for decades.
With temperatures plunging well below freezing last night the track was covered after the final race and the precaution appeared to do the trick. And although the freezing weather has left the racing fraternity fretting over the state of the course, the going is said to be good to soft, soft in places, but better than some had predicted.
SPRINTER SACRE SET FOR TAKE-OFF
The going won't matter for the main attraction on day two of the meet. "If there is one horse at this festival for whom the state of the ground is next to irrelevant it is Sprinter Sacre, who should win Wednesday's Queen Mother Champion Chase with ease," said The Guardian. The Daily Telegraph says the horse, nicknamed the 'Long Dark Aeroplane', is ready to pick up where Kauto Star and Frankel left off as a "new four-legged idol is dazzling winter’s crowds with the speed and exuberance of his jumping".
Jockey Ruby Walsh was the star of the first day of the festival, winning three races including the Champion Hurdle on Hurricane Fly. James Lawton of The Independent paid tribute to the "sublime horsemanship" that helped win that race from a seemingly impossible position at the halfway mark. Walsh, he said, "has come to dominate this formidable place like no other".
MCCRIRICK TAKEN ILL
Veteran racing pundit John McCririck was taken to hospital after being taken ill on day one of the festival. The 72-year-old, who is suing Channel 4 for ageism after being sacked from its TV coverage, was taken to hospital by ambulance shortly before the last race of the day. He was kept in hospital overnight but pledged to be back on the course by Friday. "I feel absolutely fine. I feel like walking out now but it's not allowed, apparently," he told The Guardian on Tuesday night.
The Queen's granddaughter, Zara Phillips, had a 'don't you know who I am?' moment at Cheltenham yesterday, according to the Daily Mirror, when a security guard prevented her from crossing the parade ring to get back to the royal box after watching a race. She was eventually let through but not before "the furious royal was seen exchanging cross words with the overzealous guard and pointing animatedly towards the royal box," said the paper.
BET OF THE DAY
With Sprinter Sacre a shoo-in for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the tipsters are looking elsewhere. The Guardian and Telegraph both suggest Back in Focus in the 1.30, while The Times suggests Milord in the 4.40. In the Racing Post, most napped is Pont Alexandre in the 2.05. ·