Scottish Daily Mail
SACRE BACK IN BUSINESS
IT was a performance to promote belief after almost two years of doubt and the crowd roared their approval yesterday as sprinter sacre returned to the Cheltenham winner’s enclosure.
a 12-length win from somersby in the shloer Chase might not prove the gelding can scale the heights of his imperious 2012-13 season, when he bagged five Grade Ones. But it spawned optimism that the Nicky Henderson-trained chaser still has chapters to add to the story of his racing life.
That looked a distant dream last season when he was beaten in three races and pulled up behind special Tiara in the Queen Mother Chase, a race he had won by 19 lengths in 2013.
sprinter sacre’s aura had disappeared in a faltering heartbeat when he was pulled up at Kempton in December 2013, the giant ticker in his chest misfiring.
Had he failed to win the shloer yesterday, receiving weight from four of his five rivals, sprinter sacre could even have been retired. But an emotional Henderson can now start to formulate a plan which could include next month’s Tingle Creek Chase at sandown.
sprinter sacre is 4-1 second favourite to regain his Champion Chase crown behind the willie Mullins-trained arkle winner Un De sceaux. and Henderson said: ‘It has been a long, uphill battle since Kempton. I have doubted myself at times but this horse looks so much different to last season. He was back as if he was king. we are not all the way there but we are going in the right direction.’
There was almost a flashback to the old sprinter sacre when he leapt to the front four fences from the finish and jockey Nico de Boinville felt the same.
In the glory years, De Boinville was the test pilot on the home gallops. But his promotion since Barry Geraghty became No 1 rider to JP McManus means de Boinville is now the main man on the track. He said: ‘I wouldn’t
BPI go so far as to say he is back but that is the closest to being back as we are going to get.’
De Boinville had earlier won on Henderson’s promising novice hurdler altior and is grabbing the opportunities being thrown his way.
It was also a red-letter day for 17-year-old jockey Harry Cobden, who landed the Greatwood Hurdle on Paul Nicholls-trained Old Guard.
On a perplexing afternoon for Mullins, he landed Punchestown’s Morgiana Hurdle with Nichols Canyon but his Champion Hurdler Faugheen lost his unbeaten record in second.
Mullins, who said Faugheen had smashed Nichols Canyon in a gallop last week, added: ‘Unless something wasn’t right, I am not making excuses.’