Horse Talk with Simon Jackson: Top horse-racing tips and the latest news.
SPRINTER SACRE’S second victory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase was the ‘biggest day of my career’ trainer Nicky Henderson revealed after news of his stable star’s retirement.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup winning handler and three-time champion trainer admitted that ‘you couldn’t fail to be moved’ by Sprinter Sacre’s second win in the two mile chasers’ championship at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival.
Sprinter Sacre was being readied for his comeback race this season when he met with a slight setback in training last week and connections opted to call time on a glittering career.
Henderson praised the 10-year-old winner of 18 of his 24 races that included the 2012 Arkle and 2013 Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Sprinter Sacre was unbeaten in 10 successive chases before he was side-lined in December 2013 after suffering a heart scare at Kempton Park. But he returned to his very best form with an emotional victory in the 2016 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.
He was unbeaten in his final campaign which commenced with a victory in the Shloer Chase at The Open at Cheltenham last November. Sprinter Sacre followed up with victory in the williamhill.com Desert Orchid Chase at Cheltenham before winning the Champion Chase. The Caroline Mould-owned gelding’s last race was a 15 length victory in the bet365 Celebration Chase at Sandown.
“We’ve been very lucky over the years, and I’m going on so there is room for more,” Henderson said. “For a long time I protected [triple Champion Hurdle winner] See You Then as my best horse, but those two years when Sprinter Sacre was unbeatable… He never disappointed, not until it went wrong – he was peerless.
“There was probably no bigger day than [the Shloer Chase] today last year. It wasn’t his final hour – he improved all year afterwards, and to me he was nearly a better horse at Sandown than he was at Cheltenham.
“This day, when it really had to happen, was the most crucial day. We knew that if it didn’t work that day that would have been it – there’d be no more. It was a vital day.
“The amazing thing was the crowd that November afternoon was a March crowd. I think the horse knew it, and I have to thank everyone on his behalf.
“He adores the whole thing, and no one is going to enjoy this afternoon more than Sprinter Sacre himself. He’s alive and kicking – we’re not at his funeral, we’re at a celebration of his life,” Henderson added before Sprinter Sacre paraded ahead of the Shloer Chase on Sunday.
“Last March when he won was probably the biggest day of my career. You couldn’t fail to be moved by it, and it was very special.”
Horse Talk with Simon Jackson. Showcasing horse racing in London and the south east.