Sprinter Sacre looks back to his best although Un De Sceaux still the one to beat in the eyes of the bookmakers
Sprinter Sacre was a 16/1 chance to win the 2016 betway Queen Mother Champion Chase before Sunday’s excellent victory in the Shloer Chase, with the 2013 champion producing an impressive performance to win with ease.
Since that victory three seasons ago, it’s been tough going for a horse that has experienced heart murmurs and burst blood vessels, with the nine-year-old’s last victory coming in April 2013.
Sprinter ran in the 2015 Queen Mother although turned in an underwhelming performance as Dodging Bullets delivered the goods, with many expecting to never see the horse back to his previous excellent best.
However, it appears that Nicky Henderson’s charge is back at the top of his game, with a 14-length victory exciting the Cheltenham racegoers on Sunday and leading the bookies to cut Sprinter Sacre’s odds from 16/1 to 3/1 for Queen Mother success.
Sponsors betway hold firm with their quote of 9/2 about a horse that will face much tougher opposition this season, with Henderson and jockey Nico de Boinville preaching caution after the race.
“I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s back and get really carried away about it,” said Nico de Boinville, his jockey, “because we know it can all go wrong. But that’s as close to being back as I think we’re going to get.”
“It’s just a tremendous feeling, probably as close to flying as you’re going to get,” he said.
“It’s pretty emotional stuff because it’s been a long time in the wilderness,” Henderson said. “The doubters were there to say, how long do you go on doing this? How long do we go on believing you?
“He had to win today, to be fair. And if we didn’t, there was going to be some serious soul-searching.
“We just cauterised his palate again. It’s a very simple procedure but, to me, it actually knocked him back. Before the season began I had him in the wrong place. I never got back to it.”
Un De Sceaux is a best price 13/8 to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase, with Willie Mullins’ horse having a fantastic time of things last season which saw him an easy victory in the Arkle Chase.
Last season’s winner Dodging Bullets is a 6/1 chance with Paddy Power and Simonsig is 14/1.