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Awesome Sprinter leaves Cheltenham Gobsmacked

3/14/13 - If there had been any doubters at all before, there certainly weren’t any after the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, following a simply stunning display by the outstanding Nicky Henderson-trained Sprinter Sacre, who turned the top-grade contest into little more than an exercise canter.

Time might well prove that descriptions of the unbeaten chaser as ‘jump racing’s Frankel’ aren’t too far off the mark as the French-bred gelding has come to dominate his division of National Hunt racing in no less a way than Frankel did between seven and ten furlongs on the Flat for three outstanding seasons.

For once, odds of 1/4 appear to have simply been a gift to fans placing a horse racing bet from over-generous bookmakers.

Sprinter Sacre came into the showcase two-mile contest having won his previous seven outings without turning a hair, the last four – including last season’s Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival – in Grade 1 company. But this time he had to beat the former champion and last year’s narrowly beaten runner-up Sizing Europe, who himself had won his last four starts in impressive fashion in his native Ireland.

After the supplemented Mail de Bievre gave way at the fourth last it was left to Sprinter Sacre and Sizing Europe to race virtually alone, so far behind were the rest of the field. As the older horse came under pressure before the second last, Sprinter Sacre, under Barry Geraghty, was still breezing along as though out on a morning stroll, and duly sauntered clear to score by a breathtaking 19 lengths without ever being asked to really get down to work.

The big problem now for Henderson’s superstar is quite who is going to be daft enough to race against him, as – like Frankel – he just breaks the heart of his rivals in the horse racing betting with sheer brilliance in equine form. If he remains injury free, he could well dominate the jumps scene for the next three or four seasons without ever having a proper race.

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