Sprinter Sacre can spark off end of season Celebration with Chase crown
David Metcalf | April 21, 2016
Sacre can capture Celebration Chase with Sprinter’s finish
Although the head-to-head battle between Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls for the National Hunt Trainers’ Championship going down to the wire headlines the end of season meeting at Sandown on Saturday, Nicky Henderson’s Sprinter Sacre can round off what has been a remarkable season with success in the Grade 1 Celebration Chase (15:35).
This gelding won his first 10 starts over fences in facile fashion and looked one of the best 2m chasers seen for a long time when landing the 2013 running of the Queen Mother Champion Chase on the bridle by 19 lengths.
Sprinter Sacre went on to land Grade 1 contests at Aintree and Punchestown, before suffering his first defeat over fences when pulled-up in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton in December of the same year when found to be suffering with a heart problem.
It was then a long road back for Sprinter Sacre, but his handler never gave up on him and has worked miracles to get him back to something like his brilliant best in winning all three of his starts this season.
Sensational success in Champion Chase
After landing Grade 2 races at Cheltenham and Kempton, Sprinter brought the house down when recapturing his Queen Mother Champion Chase crown at last month’s Cheltenham Festival.
The horse dubbed the “Black Aeroplane” looked in trouble when pecking three from home, but quickly recovered and, after looming up on the bridle rounding the home turn, powered clear approaching the last to put the race to bed.
Despite being not fluent at the final obstacle, Sprinter kept on strongly to comfortably beat Un De Sceaux by 3 1/2 lengths.
Judged on that performance, there is no reason why the runner-up should turn the tables and, with the drying ground in his favour, Sprinter Sacre can complete the four-timer.
Tough task for Un De Sceaux to turn the tables
Un De Sceaux was considered by many to be the rising star in the 2m chasing ranks prior to his defeat at Cheltenham.
Trained in Ireland by Mullins, the eight year-old had won five of his seven completed starts over fences and was impressive when landing last year’s Arkle Challenge Trophy by six lengths.
After falling at the second last on his seasonal reappearance at Leopardstown when in front and travelling well, Un De Sceaux got back on track when making all to win the Clarence House Chase at Ascot by five lengths.
The gelding jumped with authority and drew clear on the run-in to score with plenty in hand from Sire De Grugy.
However, the runner-up is not the force of old and Un De Sceaux had no excuses when beaten by Sprinter at the Festival and will need that rival to under-perform if he is to turn the tables.
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Coral’s top tip: Sprinter Sacre rates a solid bet to confirm Cheltenham Festival form with Un De Sceaux and round off the jumps season in style.