Sprinter Sacre (Nico de Boinville) raises the roof with a magnificent win
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Report: Sandown, Saturday
bet365 Celebration Chase (Grade 1) 1m7½f, 5yo+
SPRINTER SACRE rounded off a memorable season in tremendous style by completing a perfect four-from-four with a brilliant and dominant triumph in the bet365 Celebration Chase.
Un De Sceaux was a well-beaten second after a terrible blunder at the Pond fence, three from home. As well as dashing his chance of victory, the mistake was a near fatal blow to trainer Willie Mullins’ title hopes.
The Paul Nicholls-trained Dodging Bullets ran on for third and, with two other finishers in the six-runner field, the reigning champion still held the advantage by almost £36,000 after this race.
The Grade 1 event was really all about Sprinter Sacre, however, as he raised the roof again, just as he had at the Cheltenham Festival last month when regaining the Queen Mother Champion Chase crown.
Trainer Nicky Henderson said: “We knew we had to run really, he was that well, and he loves doing this. If you look at that, you can see why we want to do it, and it’s spectacular. We have to enjoy him. He’s enjoying himself and we have to let him show what he can do. It’s great.
“It’s been a long journey but it’s been worth it. Cheltenham and here, and all this season, has been amazing. He’s very special and he’s great for the racing game.”
Having beaten the odds-on Un De Sceaux by three and a half lengths at Cheltenham, Sprinter Sacre was 11-10 favourite this time with his Mullins-trained rival at 5-4.
Sceaux’s bad blunder
The race was effectively decided at the Pond fence, which Sprinter Sacre, Un De Sceaux and Sire De Grugy approached virtually in line.
Although Sprinter Sacre was not fluent at the fence, Un De Sceaux made a dreadful error and, with Sire De Grugy fading quickly, the favourite was able to ease clear and score by 15 lengths.
Nico de Boinville, who has gone from Sprinter Sacre’s work rider to his race jockey, attempted to sum up the remarkable story of a career that started brilliantly but was curtailed by a heart problem before this season’s glorious comeback.
“The story, the journey, the triumph, the turmoil, and back to the triumph again. It’s unbelievable and I’ve been a very lucky boy to go along for the ride,” the jockey said.
“We always do what’s right by him and he told us he was ready for today, and he was. It was a magnificent training performance.”
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