Sharpness key for Sprinter Sacre

January 19, 2015 09:24:27 UK

Nicky Henderson declared himself pleased with Sprinter Sacre’s return to racing when finishing second to Dodging Bullets in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday.

The former Champion Chaser was back in action 13 months after a heart problem stopped him in his tracks at Kempton and put paid to his unbeaten record over fences.

Henderson reported the nine-year-old to be in good form back at Seven Barrows on Sunday and felt that he had done more than enough to suggest he can regain his crown at Cheltenham in seven weeks’ time.

The trainer insisted there was still plenty to work on after the much anticipated comeback.

“He’s had a fairly intense build-up which is why he was more than 80% fit. He was probably nearer 90%,” Henderson told At The Races.

“He just got tired yesterday and we feel that’s perfectly acceptable, going that gallop in that ground in his first race really since Punchestown the year before last as he only went for a mile at Kempton.

“Realistically I was very satisfied and pleased to see him back.”

Following Saturday’s race, Sprinter Sacre is priced 3.50 for the Queen Mother, with last year’s victor Sire De Grugy quoted 5.00 and Ascot winner Dodging Bullets at 5.00.

Sprinter Sacre ranged alongside long-time leader Somersby coming to third last and Henderson felt for a moment something special might happen.

He added: “There was that moment turning in when you just thought a miracle was going to happen. It would have been fantastic.”

Barry Geraghty coaxed the runner-up home on his comeback and Henderson is optimistic the tables can be turned on Paul Nicholls’s runner.

“Dodging Bullets won the Tingle Creek and has now put up two cracking performance. We’ve got to find a couple of lengths. You’d like to think we’ve got that in our pocket somewhere,” he added.

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