Both horses put in gutsy performances but it was Sprinter Sacre who took the win, by three quarters of a length.
The 2013 Champion Chase winner Sprinter Sacre was famously pulled up in the race two years ago, suffering an irregular heartbeat.
The condition corrected itself, and his return to the track has been carefully documented. Last month fans were emotional after the gelding won the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham — his first win since April 2013.
And they were not to be disappointed at Kempton when a thrilling battle between the Nicky Henderson-trained nine-year-old and the 2014 Champion Chase winner Sire De Grugy, trained by Gary Moore, ensued.
The 8-11 favourite, ridden by Nico De Boinville, was upsides Sire De Grugy and Paul Nicholls’ Vibrato Valtat turning for home.
The final jump was all important, with both horses putting in a bold leap. Sprinter Sacre took the advantage with a stronger jump, pulling ahead to win.
“He’s a sensational horse,” said Nico after the race.
“He showed today he has heart as well as class. It was a great thrill.”
Nicky Henderson said he had “some concerns” ahead of Kempton due to the gelding’s last outing at the track.
“He is a great horse, you have to be very brave at the last but he’s that sort of horse, he’s got class but sometimes you have to tough it out as well,” he added.
Sprinter Sacre is now 4-1 for the 2016 Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Sire De Grugy won the Grade One Tingle Creek at Sandown earlier this season, after being off through injury.
For full report from Kempton don’t miss this week’s issue of H&H, out Thursday 31 December.