RACING: Jumps star Sprinter Sacre fine after Ascot return

Sprinter Sacre ridden by Barry Geraghty during the Sodexo Clarence House Steeple Chase at Ascot
Sprinter Sacre ridden by Barry Geraghty during the Sodexo Clarence House Steeple Chase at Ascot

Nicky Henderson reports Sprinter Sacre to be A1 following his comeback run in the Sodexo Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday.

The 2013 Queen Mother Champion Chase hero may have been beaten into second place by Dodging Bullets but his trainer was pleased with the performance as the nine-year-old had been absent since suffering well-documented heart problems after being pulled up at Kempton 13 months ago.

Sprinter Sacre was found to be have suffered a small bleed after the race which Henderson did not think was too serious and he is satisfied with the condition of his star two-miler.

“Most importantly he’s fine this morning. He’s been out and looked very perky. He was great, he trotted up, was very bouncy and full of it. I think it’s safe to say he enjoyed himself,” the Seven Barrows handler told At The Races.

“He’s sound and his legs are good. He ate up and did all the right things. No damage done which is always a relief.

“It was great to see him out and everyone was pleased with what he did.”

However, there were anxious moments post-race when traces of blood were found coming from Sprinter Sacre’s nose.

“We’d have preferred it not to have happened. There was a show of blood in his nostrils when he was being routine tested and we scoped him after that,” said Henderson.

“We don’t want to see it. It’s not ideal, but on the scope the significance of the score didn’t seem to be too dramatic. It was probably acceptable.

“There was no mucus which was important - there was quite a bit of Ascot racecourse, which there always will be with kickback and mud flying.

“They are bound to have a bit of all sorts of things breathed in and there was a bit of blood there.

“I think we can accept that. It didn’t affect him or his performance.

“We did weigh him and he was comparative to where he has been in the past. He was more than 80% fit and there is bound to be improvement.

“He didn’t blow up as such, but what he did do was get tired.

“They set a searching gallop yesterday and went out to test his fitness. That is perfectly fair game. The time was respectable, they went a good gallop and they are good horses.

“There is more to come and there is improvement. We weren’t pretending he was back to his very best.

“In the autumn we knew he wasn’t, but gradually it’s been coming.

“You’ve got to let a horse find his best form. It’s a work in progress. He’s been pleasing us.

“Newbury (where he worked last month) was a huge step forward and yesterday was another one.”

While Sprinter Sacre will not run again before the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase on March 11, Henderson has not ruled out giving him a racecourse gallop.

“There is no other race he can run in between now and the Festival except for Newbury (the Game Spirit Chase),” he said.

“We’re hardly going to go to Newbury in three weeks’ time. That would be suicide. You could go to a racecourse.”