Finian festival doubt

Last year’s winner Finian’s Rainbow will not defend his Queen Mother Champion Chase crown at Cheltenham tomorrow and is likely to miss the festival altogether, trainer Nicky Henderson said yesterday.

The Michael Buckley-owned chaser, who holds an entry in Thursday’s Ryanair Chase, did not appear in the final field of seven for the two-mile showpiece. Henderson said: “Finian’s Rainbow wasn’t declared for the Champion Chase and is almost certainly not going to run at the festival because of the ground.”

Finian’s Rainbow has struggled to reach the form of last season when he followed festival success with victory in Aintree’s John Smith’s Melling Chase, flopping twice on tacky ground at Ascot this campaign.

Stablemate Sprinter Sacre, unbeaten in seven over fences, heads the betting at 2-7. While one former winner is out, 2011 scorer Sizing Europe confirmed for the race instead of the 5f longer Ryanair. Mail De Bievre, Sanctuaire, Somersby, Tataniano and Wishfull Thinking complete the list.


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