The expectations of many National Hunt Racing enthusiasts may haver been a little unrealistic regarding the comeback run of Sprinter Sacre in this afternoon’s Sodexo Clarence House Chase at Ascot, expecting the exciting gelding to produce his awe-inspiring form of 2013, but what we got instead was a highly satisfactory first run for 13 months.
After the well documented problems encountered by the son of Network since being pulled up by regular pilot Barry Geraghty at Kempton in December 2013 it was evident at an early stage of the 2m 1f contest that the Irish jockey was intent on giving the nine-year-old as sympathetic a ride as possible, yet with the intention of making what would have been a popular winning comeback, but in finishing an honourable three length second to the in-form Dodging Bullets there were more positives to be gleaned from the run than negatives.
Held up towards the rear all looked to be going according to plan as Geraghty brought the gelding to take the lead two from home but the writing was on the wall when Noel Fehily began his challenge soon after and the 7-2 second favourite put the race to bed jumping the final fence for a convincing victory.
All roads now lead to the Cheltenham Festival and a likely rematch between the first two and with Geraghty stating that his mount got very tired in the testing ground turning for home it would be no surprise to see the real ‘Sprinter’ at Prestbury Park come March for which the horse can be backed at 3-1 with several bookmakers including Betfred and Paddy Power while Dodging Bullets is a best price 6-1 with William Hill to confirm the form.
Henderson was enthusiastic about the outcome, saying: “There was no messing about. They went a good gallop and it just found him out in the end. I loved the way he travelled and I’m pleased we decided to run. Only one day matters and he’ll come on plenty for it.”