Friday 9 December 2016

Return of a true great as Sprinter Sacre wins Champion Chase

Graham Clark and Nick Robson

Published 16/03/2016 | 15:41

Sprinter Sacre won the Champion Chase
Sprinter Sacre won the Champion Chase

Sprinter Sacre raised the roof by regaining his crown in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.

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Invincible when imperious in this race three years ago, Sprinter Sacre has had a succession of well-documented problems but has been brought back by his trainer Nicky Henderson to be the top two-miler again.

Sprinter Sacre (5-1) surged past a tame Un De Sceaux two out and pulled clear under Nico de Boinville to bring a packed house down at Prestbury Park.

Un De Sceaux, the 4-6 favourite, was still second best, beaten three and a half lengths behind the popular winner after being unable to dominate in his usual manner.

Sprinter Sacre ridden by Nico de Boinville (R) clears the third last in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase
Sprinter Sacre ridden by Nico de Boinville (R) clears the third last in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase

The pace had been set by Special Tiara (16-1), who was just a nose behind Un De Sceaux in third.

Henderson said: "It's been a long, long journey - those were two very, very grim years.

"That was unbelievable. That was about dreams, wasn't it?"

De Boinville said: "I'm speechless about that, it means so much to us.

"For him to come back like that - all credit to the guv'nor, we had a couple of desperate years with him and nearly retried him.

"I knew I had to get upsides Un De Sceaux and see what he was made of.

"It's incredible and I'm flabbergasted."

When asked how this victory compared to Coneygree winning the Gold Cup 12 months ago, the jockey said: "It has to be on a par."

Henderson added: "Dreams do actually happen and come alive.

"It's nice to have everybody on your side. I knew we had some supporters and it's fantastic.

"He has been a spectacular horse, but to come back and do that after all that time - everyone has done a fantastic job.

"There were some hard days, but it was certainly worth the effort.

"I said if he and Tent (My Tent Or Yours, second in Champion Hurdle) both won I'd retire, luckily Tent got beaten!

"He (Sprinter Sacre) has been a very special horse. For those two golden years he was unbeatable.

"I said he couldn't come back to his best, but maybe he has.

"He had to be as good as he ever was to do that."

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