Nicky Henderson pleased by Sprinter Sacre progress

Nicky Henderson feels the old Sprinter Sacre is “nearly there” after the former two-mile king delighted the Seven Barrows handler in his work at the weekend.

Nicky Henderson pleased by Sprinter Sacre progress

The nine-year-old was beaten for the first time in 11 completed starts over fences on his comeback from a lengthy absence at Ascot last month.

A small trace of blood was found in his nostrils after the race, but Henderson has seen no sign of it since and just needs to decide whether to give the returning champion a racecourse gallop or not before the Festival.

“He’s very good. Last week was good, he had a school and that is always exciting, for him anyway. He worked really nicely on Saturday so on we go,” Henderson said.

“We’ve just got to decide whether we have a racecourse gallop or not. I’m not really sure he needs one, so I think we’ll just creep along quietly.

“There’s no sign of any blood at home, I think and hope it’s a one-off. His work was great on Saturday so on we go. He could go to a racecourse – some are going to go to Kempton next week and some Newbury the following weekend. He wouldn’t go to Newbury as that is quite close to the Tuesday of the Festival so he could go to Kempton, but I’m not sure he really needs to.

“(The old Sprinter Sacre) was jolly nearly there last Saturday.”

Meanwhile Jason Maguire will appeal the 14-day suspension he received at Ludlow yesterday which would rule him out of competing at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

The Grand National-winning rider finished seventh aboard the Ben Pauling-trained Born To Succeed in the concluding Onny Maiden Hurdle, which was won by 20-1 shot King Alfonso.

Maguire’s partner was beaten 23 and three-quarters of a length, but the local stewards found him guilty of “schooling/conditioning the horse on the racecourse”.

The jockey is due to be sidelined between March 4-17 which would see him miss the four-day Festival, which begins on March 10.

But Maguire, who missed last season’s National Hunt showcase meeting due to injury, said: “I have no comment to make but I’m definitely going to appeal.”

Born To Succeed was also banned from running in any race for 40 days, with Pauling fined £3,000.

Pauling refused to comment on the incident, but he, too, would appeal the stewards’ decision.

A statement issued by the BHA read: “The rider stated that his instructions were to drop the gelding in and get him settled and then to do his best work late on.

“He added that he asked the gelding to make up ground in the back straight but was forced to go wide on the track.

“He further added that the gelding became very tired at the entrance to the home straight, was not quick enough to take any gaps and did not jump well in the closing stages.

“He therefore felt it prudent to keep a good hold of the horse.

“The trainer confirmed that the rider had ridden in accordance with his instructions and added that Born To Succeed is an extremely nervous horse at home.

“He was therefore keen that the horse should be allowed to get home in its race in order to progress its education.

“Having heard their evidence and viewed recordings of the race, the stewards found the rider in breach of Rule (B)59.2 and the trainer in breach of Rule (C)45.4, in that they were guilty of schooling/conditioning the horse on the racecourse.

“They fined the trainer £3,000 and suspended the horse from running in any race for 40 days from Saturday, February 21 to Wednesday, April 1 inclusive.”

Rascal will revert to novice company following a facile victory in the Shukers Land Rover Handicap Hurdle.

Sent straight into the lead by Harry Skelton, the well-supported 2-1 favourite put in a polished round of jumping to take the two-mile-five-furlong contest by 11 lengths from Dardanella.

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