I watched Sprinter Sacre’s racecourse school at Newbury on TV last month – and I was impressed.
He seems to have rediscovered his old sparkle and if he transfers that to the racecourse the others could be running for second place despite a 13-month absence since pulling up with an irregular heartbeat at Kempton in December 2013.
I haven’t got a crystal ball and can’t swear how Barry Geraghty’s mount will get on until he’s put under the real pressure of racing.
But one thing I do know for certain is that Nicky Henderson – or any other trainer – would not bring him to the racecourse if there was even a hint of that irregular heartbeat showing up again.
There’s bound to be a certain wariness for punters about backing him given his enforced absence. But I don’t buy that he’s a bit like Mad Moose.
His antics at the start of a race could disrupt all the horses’ chances. It’s similar to a horse who causes trouble at the start of a Flat race and won’t go into the stalls. This can transmit to the other runners, get them agitated and can have a detrimental effect on their performance.
That isn’t the case with Sprinter Sacre. Any issues he has relates to him alone and won’t be a factor on how any of the others perform on the day.
As for the opposition – there’s a couple of solid Grade One winners who you’d imagine will have a major race fitness edge over him.
Twinlight was a good winner in the Grade One Paddy Power Dial A Bet Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas in testing ground. Dodging Bullets and Somersby were first and second in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.
Whether Sprinter Sacre’s time off the racecourse and ring rustiness ends up being the major factor at Ascot – we’ll all be a lot wiser about that on Saturday afternoon
But if he is still the horse he was then he should have too much class for them all.
The others are rated up to 30lbs below him when he was at his peak and won at the Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown Festivals in the spring of 2013.
If Sprinter Sacre is in the sort of form that saw him win 10 of his 11 starts over fences – almost always on the bridle – he’ll be different gravy on Saturday