Sprinter Sacre delighted fans and connections in a racecourse gallop at Newbury yesterday (Monday 29 December) — and is set to return to racing next month.
The popular chaser has not been seen in action since last December, when he pulled up in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton due to an irregular heartbeat.
Sprinter Sacre was on his toes in the paddock at Newbury, looking well as he paraded for fans before he worked.
He was then joined by stablemate Tanks For That as he completed 1m5f of the Berkshire track — tackling five fences down the back straight before galloping home in front of the stands under regular jockey Barry Geraghty.
Despite a slight mistake at the second fence, in which he took off too early, trainer Nicky Henderson was pleased with the way Sprinter Sacre worked — and said he will now be aimed at the Clarence House Chase at Ascot on 17 January.
“That was perfect and it’s a massive step in the right direction,” said Nicky.
Barry wasn’t unhappy with the mistake, saying it showed the horse “wanted to have a bit of a go” at the fence. He added that the horse was “full of it” and back to his old self.
The winner of the 2013 Champion Chase at Cheltenham had won 10 chases in a row before being pulled up by Barry on 27 December 2013. The horse was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, which has since corrected itself, but vet Celia Marr, who treated the horse, was on hand at Newbury to observe.
Nicky has been monitoring his stable star carefully all year, and ruled him out of the 2014 Champion Chase as well as the Tingle Creek at the beginning of December. He was deemed “not ready” but in full health by Nicky.
However, as Nicky had been pleased with Sprinter Sacre’s work in recent weeks, he decided to work the gelding before racing at his local track, where he was welcomed by the crowd.
“It’s nice to see him back and see that he’s still appreciated. I’m very grateful to Newbury and it will put him right for Ascot next month; he’s had a right good blow there,” he added.
Julian Thicke, of Newbury racecourse added that he was “delighted” to see Sprinter Sacre back on the racecourse.
“He’s one of the greatest steeplechasers we’ve ever seen and it was lovely for everyone here to see him in full flight before racing,” he said.