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Barry Geraghty exclusive: There’s no Sprinter Sacre but Nicky Henderson says I’ll still win the Champion Chase

The Champion Chase might be missing Sprinter Sacre but Barry Geraghty is as confident as ever on Captain Conan. Ruby Walsh has other ideas...

by Josh Powell | March 11, 2014

Superstar Sprinter Sacre won the Queen Mother Champion Chase by 19 lengths last year, but a dodgy ticker has ruled him out of this year’s renewal. Despite this blow to the Nicky Henderson charge, the trainer is still confident Barry Geraghty will pick up his third Champion Chase crown on the spin.

The pair’s hopes rest on 9/2 shot Captain Conan. He dropped away tamely in the Tingle Creek and hasn’t been seen since. But despite this, assistant trainer Charlie Morlock says his speed on the gallops has to be seen to be believed, and Barry Geraghty himself told us Nicky Henderson is full of confidence.

One man who doesn’t think Captain Conan stands a chance is Cheltenham Festival legend Ruby Walsh. The top jockey quickly dismissed the chances of Barry’s mount and has no worries about Arvika Ligeonniere (7/1) going left-handed.

Ruby has 38 Festival winners to his name – exactly 39 more than any of the Paddy Power Blog team – so when he says the only danger to Arvika is the favourite Sire De Grugy it gets our each-way sense tingling.

The other big talking point of the day looks to be another horse from the Willie Mullins yard, Faugheen. The unbeaten hurdler runs in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle (1.30pm) and John Parrott is sweet on the favourites chances at 11/4.

After Tuesday’s ‘lickity-spit’ debacle, our good pal JP is back with another glorious sound-bite on Wednesday’s opener.

The dogs are indeed barking John. Whether Faugheen has bacon stored in his saddle or if he’s actually trying to break into your house, we’re not sure but the dogs are barking. We jest, JP, we jest. Clearly he is Parrott’s red-hot fancy for the day and punter’s haven’t been shy to back Faugheen.

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