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Sprinter Sacre leaves rivals trailing in wake at Cheltenham
SPRINTER SACRE sent shivers down the spine with an utterly dominant victory in the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
The 1-4 favourite, the shortest-priced winner at the Festival since Arkle nearly half a century ago, annihilated his six rivals in the two-mile showpiece – crushing the 2011 winner Sizing Europe by 19 lengths while easing down at the finish.
His trainer Nicky Henderson called the race the “worst five minutes of my life” but he had little to worry about. Sprinter Sacre was sparkling.
Tracking Sizing Europe early on, the pair were soon a distance clear of anything else in the field and as jockey Andrew Lynch started to niggle at the Irish-trained 11-year-old, Barry Geraghty, on board Sprinter Sacre, was simply cruising.
He didn’t even have to ask his mount a question, effortlessly moving past his rival with three fences to jump and coasting away in one of the most impressive performances ever witnessed in the contest.The packed grandstands were applauding as the seven-year-old turned into the home straight and he merely had to negotiate the final obstacles to grab the £208,000 first prize.
Henderson said: “Now it is over and he was everything I hoped he would be. I am speechless.
“His whole aura is just totally and utterly unique. He’s scary.
“I don’t know why we have to worry but we do.
“It was tough but we will keep our breath and I hope people enjoyed watching that.”
He added: “He doesn’t hide it under a bushel. He doesn’t do anything by halves. It’s the way he lives.
“Barry enjoys it, the horse enjoys it and I hate it, but it’s fun afterwards.
“He’s nearly the perfect racehorse. He looks it and it’s rare to find one that looks so good and is so good. You would have to say that’s his best performance.
“We were well aware that anything bar very stunning wouldn’t keep people happy, but that was stunning.”
Geraghty, who compared Sprinter Sacre to the Brazilian footballer Pele, said: “I’ve never ridden a horse that does it all so easily.
“He has such power and scope, and that gives him the time he needs.
“He is like a top footballer, like Pele on the ball, who used to do it all easily because his speed and power and skill gave him the time to do it.
“He made a mistake at the ditch, the first he’s ever made, but he knew what he was doing and it wasn’t really a mistake.
“He was long into it, really long, and he put down on me, but off that ground he was telling me that was the thing to do and he absolutely winged the next.”