SUPER chasers Sprinter Sacre and Sanctuaire will face off in tomorrow’s Sportingbet Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in the first big clash over two miles this season.
The handicapper has the pair rated only 3lb apart, with Nicky Henderson’s Arkle winner Sprinter Sacre just ahead of the Paul Nicholls-trained Sanctuaire.
Sprinter Sacre appears to have the chasing world at his feet having gone unbeaten through his novice season, with a victory against his elders in the Game Spirit Chase also on his record.
Sanctuaire has only had three races over fences.
But he has looked a natural under the in-form Ruby Walsh.
2011 Grand National winner Ballabriggs will kick off his season with another start over the famous Aintree fences in the Becher Handicap Chase tomorrow.
Donald McCain’s fine stayer ran just twice last term, finishing sixth when attempting to defend his National title, and must concede weight all round over the shorter trip of three and a quarter miles.
The past two winners of the race – West End Rocker and Hello Bud – are in the line-up, while Ferdy Murphy’s 2011 bet365 Gold Cup hero Poker De Sivola continues his comeback.
Others in the field to have also run in the Grand National are this year’s fifth-placed In Compliance, as well as Midnight Haze, Big Fella Thanks and Swing Bill.