Sprinter Sacre awesome in Cheltenham cruise
Report: Cheltenham, Saturday
Victor Chandler Chase (The Clarence House Steeple Chase) (Grade 1) 5yo+, 2m½f
SPRINTER SACRE defeated a talented field and came home to a reception fit for a superstar as he stretched his winning run to seven.
The Nicky Henderson-trained star, who is long odds-on to win the Champion Chase in under two months time, moved through the race as easy as the wind and finished full of running as his rivals made do with fighting for minor honours.
He jumped fluently at speed throughout, and while his jump at the second last was perhaps a tad untidy he went on and leapt the last as graceful as a starling before sauntering up the hill to a public ovation the like of which Cheltenham only affords true champions.
A measure of how talented Sprinter Sacre is was how nervous Henderson was before the race, and how relieved afterwards.
He said: "Five minutes before the race I would have paid a million pounds to take Sprinter Sacre home. I'm glad it's over. I didn't have any reservations about running but Barry [Geraghty] was worried about the ground and I thought he was a bit fresh."
Henderson added Sprinter Sacre would go directly to the Champion Chase. Punters wishing to invest in Sprinter Sacre - and financial advisors might soon be recommending that instead of bonds and stocks - will find nothing bigger than the 2-5 Paddy Power and William Hill offer.
It is hard to see how anything but Sprinter Sacre himself could prevent a Champion Chase romp similar to today's thrashing. Connections of Flemenstar, next in the betting, might well be hoping their charge proves his stamina as the Gold Cup looks a more realistic target.
Different tactics were tried on Sanctuaire but the end result was the same: outfought, outjumped, outclassed. He has gone through two rounds with Sprinter Sacre now and has been pummelled black and blue. Last time he finished third, this time fourth.
Mad Moose ran an excellent race to finish second at 50-1, while Somersby, who won this last year, was at his best and third was the least he deserved, the effort of attempting to catch Sprinter Sacre probably taking its toll late on.