NER Nicky Henderson believes Sprinter Sacre can reprise the form that saw him become steeplechasing box office when he returns from a 13-month absence tomorrow.
Sprinter Sacre won 10 times from his first 10 starts before a heart murmur saw him pulled up at Kempton in December 2013, and Henderson has not been happy to race his stable star since. But he has been cleared to make an eagerly anticipated comeback this weekend in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot despite concerns over heavy rain leaving the ground too soft.
“I don’t say he’s been running round like he used to, but put a fence in front of him, and everything lights up again,” said Henderson, aiming him at March’s Queen Mother Champion Chase.
“We are desperate to run. The timing is perfect. Whatever happens, and whatever ground we get, it gives us lots of time to build on it between now and Cheltenham. If he gets beaten, of course we are going to be disappointed, but I’m optimistic this is going to come out on the right side, though it isn’t the end of the world if it doesn’t.”
Tingle Creek winner Dodging Bullets is rated Sprinter Sacre’s main rival in a five-strong field.