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Nicky Henderson: “Sprinter Sacre is as good as he’s been for a very long time”

23 Feb | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Nicky Henderson: “Sprinter Sacre is as good as he’s been for a very long time”

Bill Esdaile went to visit trainer Nicky Henderson as he prepares Sprinter Sacre for next month’s Betway Champion Chase

It’s been just over a month since we last saw Sprinter Sacre in action at Ascot and trainer Nicky Henderson reports his stable star in rude health ahead of next month’s Betway Champion Chase.

He may have only finished second on his reappearance in the Clarence House, but his handler was pleased with the way things turned out:

“He travelled like the best horse in the race and just got tired from the second last. I can’t blame the ground as it wasn’t that bad, like I said, he just got tired. We had to run at Ascot as it was a case of there or nowhere.”

Henderson is delighted with the progress the 2013 Champion Chase winner has made since his comeback run and reports that physically he has him right where he wants him:

“He had a quiet 10 days immediately after the Clarence House and that helped him put on a little bit of condition. He’s right there now. He’s spot on.”

It’s been a busy period for the nine-year-old who schooled on Friday, worked again on Saturday and will be part of a strong Seven Barrows squad that will head to Mandown Gallops on Wednesday for further work.

Looking ahead to the Betway Champion Chase itself, Henderson is hoping the rain will stay away and confesses that “the better the ground, the better our chance.”

As for the opposition, he was impressed with Sire De Grugy’s weight carrying performance at Chepstow on Saturday. “Sprinter watched the telly on Saturday afternoon,” he told me.

Though, when asked what Sprinter thought of the reigning Champion Chaser’s performance, Henderson teased: “’I didn’t say what programme he was watching”. He continued: “It was a great shout by Gary. It was a brave thing to do and I’m sure it was the right thing to do too.”

Henderson isn’t worried that he’s heading back to Cheltenham on the back of just the one run: “We’ve had our run, he’s done enough work and we don’t need to go to a racecourse.”

It’s been a long journey since Sprinter Sacre was pulled up at Kempton in December 2013 and one that has had its share of low moments:

“The early parts were hard. In the early autumn we were waiting for that spark to return and it just wasn’t there. However, since Ascot he’s been great. We’re as good as we’ve been for a very long time.”

Sprinter Sacre is currently Betway’s 3/1 favourite for the race.

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