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  Classy Sanctuaire impresses on chasing bow  

Last seasonís Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Sanctuaire made a very promising start to his new career as a novice chaser when blazing to a facile 16-length victory over Easter Meteor in the Charlie Company 40 Commando Royal Marines Novices Chase at Taunton on the final day of January and could potentially have a big future over the larger obstacles, writes Elliot Slater.

His chasing debut success was immediately followed by quotes of between 16/1 and 25/1 in the best Cheltenham race odds for the Grade 1  Racing Post Arkle Chase on March 13, but although the Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old was in a different league to his Taunton rivals there were signs that the two-mile novice chasing championship might come a little soon for the inexperienced but very talented gelding who appeared to hurdle most of the obstacles and occasionally looked to be taking the type of chance that could see him end in a heap if up against hot opposition and the much stiffer fences at Cheltenhamís feature meeting.

Both Nicholls and winning jockey Ruby Walsh expressed themselves very pleased with the performance of the son of Kendor who led from flag-fall and fairly flew around the sharp right-handed circuit, rarely being less than 25-lengths clear of his four rivals before being eased down after the last to win as he wished. A horse who proved himself at a high level over hurdles and who won the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at the 2010 Cheltenham Festival, Sanctuaire has the scope to make a chaser and looked to be enjoying himself having begun to show the odd sign of temperament in recent outings over timber.

Nicholls is in no rush to make a decision about Sanctuaireís participation at Cheltenham and will almost certainly want to get at least one more run into his exciting prospect before deciding which path to chart with the Jared Sullivan-owned ex-French campaigner.


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