Sacre sails through crucial workout

Nicky Henderson reported Sprinter Sacre’s heart rate to be “perfectly normal” after coming through a crucial workout yesterday morning.

National Hunt racing’s brightest star suffered his first defeat over fences when pulled up sharply by Barry Geraghty in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on December 27, after which he was found to be suffering from an irregular heartbeat.

After being examined by Celia Marr, a specialist in equine internal medicine and cardiology, last weekend Sprinter Sacre’s heart “righted itself” and he was monitored closely as he did his first canter since at Seven Barrows.

Henderson said: “We can’t tell an awful lot at this stage, but his heart was normal this morning and remained so through exercise.

“Everyone was happy and everything looked perfectly normal.”

Sprinter Sacre is now set to continue in light work and Henderson is not ruling out the possibility of the eight-year-old defending his crown in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

“The veterinary team will have to go and download the evidence, but as long as everyone is happy, we’ll get him back into a normal routine for a couple of weeks,” added Henderson.

“If we feel then he is ready for something more strenuous, which will be in two or three weeks’ time, then we will repeat today’s process again, with Celia Marr, and see how that goes.

“It is a possibility we could then move on, but I would only do that if we thought the Queen Mother was a real possibility.”

He remains an odds-on favourite to complete back-to-back victories in the Champion Chase. No bigger than 10/11 in the ante-post lists, Paddy Power and William Hill have priced the son of Network at 4-7 with a run.

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