Sprinter Sacre: Punchestown a back-up plan for Champion Chase hero
PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
SPRINTER SACRE was on Thursday confirmed on target to bring the curtain down on another extraordinary campaign at the Bet365 Jumps Finale meeting at Sandown on Saturday week as long as the ground is suitable.
Trainer Nicky Henderson said the two-time Queen Mother Champion Chase winner would have his final start of the season in the Bet365 Celebration Chase provided the going is not soft.
There is an outside chance Sprinter Sacre could head to Punchestown in the event conditions at Sandown, which clerk of the course Andrew Cooper on Thursday described as good, good to soft in places, became too testing.
But Henderson revealed Simonsig, who has run only once in three years and not contested a chase since winning the 2013 Racing Post Arkle, was the trainer’s likely challenger in Punchestown’s Boylesports Champion Chase.
The hugely popular Sprinter Sacre triggered wild celebrations when he completed a remarkable comeback from heart issues to win a second Champion Chase at Cheltenham last month.
Sprinter ‘in good shape’
Henderson said: “Caroline Mould and I had a chat about him yesterday. He’s going to do a bit of work over the weekend and seems in very good order. The plan is to go to Sandown as long as it’s goodish ground.
“In the unlikely event Sandown was soft and Ireland was good he could switch to Punchestown but I’m planning to run
Simonsig there in the two-mile chase. He worked very well on Tuesday.
“Sprinter Sacre looks fantastic. He’s come out of Cheltenham really well. Nico schooled him on Wednesday and he seems in really good shape.”
Altior finished for season
Altior, the stable’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner, will not run again this season but with his next campaign in mind the horse, who is third favourite for next year’s Champion Hurdle and second favourite for the Arkle, has been schooled over fences.
“He was very good but we don’t have to make any decisions now,” said Henderson.
“It was just to give us food for thought and it certainly has because he was absolutely excellent.
“We’re long way from saying what he’ll do. I’m so sat on the fence it’s not true. If he had made a pig’s ear of schooling it would have been easy but nobody needs to make a decision until the autumn.”
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