Sprinter Sacre ready to recapture Queen Mother Champion Chase crown
David Metcalf | March 15, 2016
Sprinter Sacre can soar to success in Champion Chase
Nicky Henderson’s Sprinter Sacre has come back to form with a vengeance this season and looks decent value to get the better red-hot favourite Un De Sceaux and secure a second success in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival (15:30).
The gelding won his first 10 starts over fences in facile fashion and looked one of the best 2m chasers seen for a long time when landing the 2013 running of this race on the bridle by 19 lengths.
Sprinter Sacre went on to land Grade 1 contests at Aintree and Punchestown before suffering his first defeat over fences when pulled-up in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton in December of the same year when found to be suffering with a heart problem.
It was then a long road back for Sprinter Sacre, but the 10-year-old has looked back to something like his brilliant best in winning both his starts this season.
Swagger back in Shloer Chase
After showing all his old swagger to land the Shloer chase at this venue impressively by 14 lengths, Sprinter showed great battling qualities to follow-up in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton by 3/4 of a length from Sire De Grugy.
There was lots to like about the way in which Sprinter Sacre dug deep, and he looks a total different specimen physically compared to last year.
The drying ground will also be in his favour, and the son of Network can raise the roof by becoming the first since the mighty Moscow Flyer (2003 and 2005) to recapture his crown.
Un De Sceaux the rising star
Willie Mullins’ Un De Sceaux is considered by many to be the rising star in the 2m chasing ranks and is bidding to land back-to-back Festival successes.
Trained in Ireland, the eight year-old French gelding is unbeaten in the 14 races he has completed under rules.
Un De Sceaux has won five of his seven completed starts over fences and was impressive when landing last year’s Arkle Challenge Trophy at this meeting by six lengths.
Jumping and tearaway style remain a concern
However, he blotted his copybook on seasonal reappearance when falling at the second-last at Leopardstown when still in front and travelling well and it was not the first time that his tearaway front running tactics had been his downfall.
Un De Sceaux then got back on track when making all to win the Clarence House Chase at Ascot by five lengths, drawing clear on the run-in to score with plenty in hand from Sire De Grugy.
It was a taking performance, but Un De Sceaux is still far from a safer jumper in my eyes and the form of his win in last year’s Arkle has not worked out well.
Coral’s top tip: Sprinter Sacre has got his swagger back and can topple the much vaunted Un De Sceaux to land a second Queen Mother Champion Chase success.