Nicky Henderson mulling over Sprinter Sacre’s next outing

Sprinter Sacre may bid to regain his Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase crown without another run following his tremendous victory at Kempton on Sunday.
Nicky Henderson mulling over Sprinter Sacre’s next outing

With the Clarence House Chase at Ascot on January 23 and the Betfair Price Rush Chase at Newbury on February 13 as the only serious possible races for the brilliant two-miler before the Cheltenham Festival, trainer Nicky Henderson has to consider that option.

“They are only two races for him really before Cheltenham, the Clarence House and the Game Spirit (Betfair Price Rush Chase), so it’s possible he might go to Cheltenham without another run,” said the Seven Barrows trainer.

“The Clarence House will come too soon, so I don’t think we’ll need to go there. He could go to the Game Spirit or he could go straight to Cheltenham. I don’t know.”

Henderson reports Sprinter Sacre, winner of the Champion Chase in 2013, to be in good form after his triumphant struggle over Sire De Grugy in an epic renewal of the Desert Orchid Chase.

“He’s absolutely fine. He’s come out of the race well,” he said.

Connections of Un De Sceaux have their eyes firmly fixed on the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival despite his fall at Leopardstown on Sunday.

The Willie Mullins-trained trailblazer is still a short-priced favourite for the two-mile chase feature in March, but the recent resurgence of Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy means his task is no longer as straightforward as it looked in the summer.

Un De Sceaux’s options before Cheltenham appear to be limited, with the Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown in February and Ascot’s Clarence House Chase highlighted as obvious possibilities by part-owner Colm O’Connell.

He said: “I’ve spent half the morning already watching it back, but it is what it is.

“Ruby (Walsh) had just given him a breather, he just needed to get over that fence before he went again, but that’s racing.

“If he’s all right, and I haven’t heard any different, I’d imagine a decision will be made about where next in about a week.

“There aren’t many options before Cheltenham, the Tied Cottage and the Clarence House and that’s it, unless Willie finds something in France.

“Ruby said he was just too fresh. That’s it.

“We’ve got our eyes on one prize, in March, we’ve got a genius trainer and I’m sure he’ll be 100% on the day.

“When he fell, I ran down from the stands to check he was OK. You get so attached to your horses, I can understand Rich Ricci not watching his. You feel like running them in bumpers for the rest of their careers!

“He must have been 50 lengths behind the front two when he got back up yet he still crossed the line first, that’s just the type of horse he is - he always wants to win.

“Flemenstar winning was a nice story, though. The two-mile division this year really has been the story of the comebacks with Sire De Grugy and Sprinter Sacre.

“They look like the two to beat at this stage, if anything I think the bookies have our lad a bit tight, but I still wouldn’t swap him.”

Meanwhile Flemenstar was reported to be in tip-top shape following his dramatic victory in the Paddy Power So Quick, So Easy iPhone App Chase at Leopardstown on Sunday.

The 10-year-old, who has been plagued by leg trouble, showed he was no back number when getting up on the run-in to deny Simply Ned in the Grade One after the fall of Un De Sceaux at the second last had thrown the race wide open.

It was a first winner for Tony Curran, son of owner Stephen Curran, since he took out a licence in the summer to handle Flemenstar, who was formerly trained by Tony Martin and Peter Casey.

“He’s great this morning.

“We’ll give him a few weeks and see where we go next. It will be Punchestown for the Tied Cottage (on January 31) or something similar.”

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