Sprinter Sacre out of Queen Mother Champion Chase

Sprinter Sacre has been officially scratched from the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival after failing to sparkle in his latest piece of work.

Nicky Henderson’s star two miler had been odds-on to successfully retain his crown on Wednesday, March 12th, but will now not run again this season.

Sire De Grugy now heads the market for the Queen Mother at 7/4 with Coral.

Willie Mullins’ Arvika Ligeonniere is the new 9/2 second favourite, with Benefficient next best in at 5/1, followed by Al Ferof (6/1) and Sprinter Sacre’s stable mate Captain Conan (7/1).

A runaway winner last year’s Queen Mother, Sprinter Sacre was sensationally pulled up at Kempton on December 27 and quickly diagnosed as suffering from an irregular heartbeat.

That problem righted itself but the eight-year-old did not show his usual brilliance in a piece of work at Henderson’s Seven Barrows base, leaving his handler with no option but to pull up stumps for the rest of the season.

The horse will now be sent to Newmarket for a thorough examination by equine specialist Celia Marr in an effort to find out if there is any reason for his change in demeanor.

Henderson told BBC Radio 5 live: “He’s such a brilliant horse you can just tell he wasn’t right.

“He was working to 90 per cent of his ability and his capacity. Our job is to send him back to the garage, if you like, and get him back and have a full MOT.”