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Sprinter Sacre - Aintree 14.4.12

Sprinter Sacre: returns to the track in Tingle Creek on Saturday

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Geraghty: Sanctuaire biggest test for Sprinter

SPRINTER SACRE encounters his biggest challenge to date in the shape of Sanctuaire according to Barry Geraghty, who will be aboard the brilliant Racing Post Arkle winner in the Grade 1 Sportingbet Tingle Creek Chase on Saturday.

Trained by Nicky Henderson for Caroline and Raymond Mould, Sprinter Sacre was one of seven runners declared for Saturday's big race at Sandown in which he will be making his season return after a scintillating, unbeaten first season over fences.

However, he faces a worthy adversary in the shape of Sanctuaire, who is also undefeated over fences - including twice at Sandown, where his two wins have been by a combined 58 lengths.

The big two dominate the betting for the race with Sprinter Sacre 1-2 and Sanctuaire 5-2. It is 25-1 bar those two.

Geraghty rates Sprinter Sacre among the best horses he has ridden and is full of anticipation for the star chaser's return, which was delayed nearly a month after he was withdrawn from Cheltenham due to heavy ground last month.

"I'm looking forward to Saturday's race. You have to respect Sanctuaire after the performance he put up at Sandown in April and I think that he poses Sprinter Sacre's biggest test yet," Geraghty said on Thursday.

Andrew Cooper - clerk of the course at Sandown and Epsom

Andrew Cooper: confident

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker ( 

"As for the soft ground [at Sandown], hopefully it won't cause any problems, but it's one of those things you don't know until on the day. It's going to be an interesting race, I am really looking forward to it."

Cold weather claimed the fixtures at Market Rasen and Leicester on Thursday but Sandown clerk of the course Andrew Cooper is confident the two-day meeting will beat the weather.

He said: "Frost covers went down on the entire course on Wednesday. After a very cold night on Wednesday we are now expecting a wet night on Thursday and a cold night on Friday, though not as cold as yesterday.

"Taking all things into account and assuming the forecast is correct we are reasonably confident that we will be able to race on both days."

He added: "Only if we get much more rain than is expected tonight or if Friday night turns much colder could we have any issues at all."

The going at Sandown was soft, good to soft in places on the chase course and soft, heavy in places on the hurdles course on Thursday.

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