Sprinter Sacre a Tingle Creek doubt as bad scope alarms Henderson
A DOUBT hangs over Sprinter Sacre's participation in Saturday's Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown after Nicky Henderson revealed his star chaser had a bad scope.
The brilliant seven-year-old is the hot favourite to stretch his unbeaten record over fences to 11 races, but returned "unsatisfactory figures" from a tracheal wash taken yesterday morning.
Sprinter Sacre will be tested on Thursday morning before final declarations are made for the Grade One to assess whether he can be given the go-ahead.
"Although the horse is in fantastic form and his work on Saturday was, as ever, impeccable, I cannot ignore what these figures indicate," explained Henderson.
"Although marginal, we have to issue a warning tonight, rather than any later, that he's not a certain participant on Saturday.
"I've spoken to Caroline Mould (owner), who, like all of us, would not wish to take any chances."
Last season's runaway Queen Mother Champion Chase winner has not been seen since his victory over Sizing Europe at the Punchestown Festival in April.
Henderson is adamant he will do nothing to place in jeopardy the long-term prospects of Sprinter Sacre, which will work again today in the hope he can make the Tingle Creek line-up.
He said: "There is every chance this could change and go the right way, but, at the same time, if they did not improve, we would have to reluctantly decline this opportunity.
"This is devastating for us. I wouldn't run any horse on these figures, but we're especially not prepared to take a chance with him.
"Whatever happens, the long-term future for Sprinter Sacre is obviously paramount. To run him under unsatisfactory circumstances would be foolish considering his reputation."
Henderson was in inspired form at the weekend, winning Saturday's Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury with Triolo D'Alene. Stablemate My Tent Or Yours also excelled in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on the same day.
Sprinter Sacre is one of 11 entries for the Tingle Creek. Henderson has also entered Captain Conan, a winner of three Grade One novice chases last season, but he also holds an entry over three miles at Sandown on Friday.
Recent Cheltenham disappointment Sire De Grugy is expected to take his chance for the Gary Moore team.
The Mick Channon-trained Somersby bounced back to form when winning the Haldon Gold Cup recently and has had this race as his aim since then. Paul Nicholls has the novice Hinterland and Kauto Stone entered, but there are no Irish representatives.