Sprinter Sacre: took his unbeaten record over fences to nine with easy winPICTURE: Getty Images
Sprinter Sacre simply sensational in Melling
Report: Aintree, Friday
John Smith's Melling Chase (Grade 1) 2m4f, 5yo+
SPRINTER SACRE stretched his unbeaten record over fences to nine as he brushed aside Cue Card and Flemenstar with the minimum of fuss.
A step up into the unknown trip-wise and taking on rivals of a calibre better than those he had faced over 2m looked like it might give the Nicky Henderson-trained seven-year-old a test, but the best horse in training over jumps delivered the goods once again.
Barry Geraghty kept him widest racing down the back and the pair closed up on Cue Card at the top of the straight. The Ryanair Chase winner was able to keep with Sprinter Sacre as they raced towards the second-last, but as Geraghty sat motionless, Sprinter Sacre eased into a clear lead approaching the last.
At the line the 1-3 favourite was four and a half lengths clear of Cue Card, who in turn had opened up a yawning gap over Irish challenger Flemenstar who finished way back in third.
Henderson, who was completing a double on the card following the victory of My Tent Or Yours in the opener, said: "He is a very natural athlete. He has a huge amount of ability and it is all very natural for him - it is just sheer natural talent."
Sprinter Sacre was installed at just 6-4 by the sponsors for the William Hill King George and asked about the possibility of stepping up in trip further next season, Henderson added: "We will sit still at the moment. He gets that but he doesn't need anymore. That gives us options now."
Geraghty, who has ridden Sprinter Sacre in all his starts over fence bar his debut, added: "He is brilliant. He travelled a bit too well and I had to take him back a few times as with the trip I did not want to be getting to the front too soon.
"He tired a little but he is a very manageable horse, he is not one to do anything stupid. He is a gentleman and he does it so easily."
Joe Tizzard, who ride the runner-up for his father Colin said: "He has run a super race. I have to take my hat off to Sprinter Sacre, he is a fantastic horse.
"I am so proud of Cue Card, he has run a super race."
Francis Casey, son of Flemenstar's trainer, Peter, said: "We're delighted with him and he was just not good enough. Andrew [Lynch] said Finian's Rainbow went by him and he couldn't pick up and then just ran on again at the end. He's entered at Punchestown and he'll go there for the Champion Chase."