The dream is over. At 6pm on Sunday, Feb 23 Nicky Henderson confirmed what we’d all suspected. Sprinter Sacre will miss Cheltenham 2014 after his heart murmur left the reigning champion chaser a couple of furlongs off where he needed to be for the Festival.
What should have been a routine stroll in Kempton’s Desert Orchid Chase turned out to be anything but after Sprinter Sacre was pulled up after the seventh fence.
Jumps racing’s most famous heart patient now faces some time on the sidelines but the plan is to get him right for next season.
Henderson always looked like he was one step away from a nervous breakdown whenever Sprinter Sacre ran so if nothing else it should leave him free to worry about all his other stable stars as the clock ticks on the Cotswolds.
When Henderson did manage to sneak a peak from behind the combination of hands and tweed covering his face, he saw a consummate performer with the potential to be mentioned among the all-time greats of the jumps world.
That Kempton blip was the first time he’d been beaten over fences (for the record Sire De Grugy won) to add to two defeats (over hurdles) in a 17-race career.
Only time and the vets can tell if he”ll be allowed to hit those heights again.
Stat: The highest-rated chaser in training off a mark of 192p
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