Scottish Daily Mail

SACRE BACK IN BUSI­NESS

- By MAR­CUS TOW­NEND

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.’

 ??  ?? Gi­ant leap: Sprinter Sacre clears the last to seal vic­tory
Gi­ant leap: Sprinter Sacre clears the last to seal vic­tory
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