Last week I gave an update on how some of the lower profile horses at Seven Barrows were shaping up ahead of Cheltenham. But pretty much everywhere I go, I don’t have to wait long before I get a question on:
Who could forget that in 2013 Sprinter won the Queen Mother Champion Chase by 19 lengths? He was the menace and had an aura about him. There has been so much anticipation and speculation that everyone wants to have their say. No one from Seven Barrows is saying he’s going to definitely win or that he’s definitely back to what he was in 2013. No-one will ever know the answer to that. All we know is that he looks and feels like the horse he was as he prepares for the Champion Chase.
Barry (Geraghty) schooled him last Friday week and said that he feels the engine is still intact. He felt great and looks a picture and feels like the old Sprinter when he was at his best.
He looks much better than on his comeback run at Ascot – his first competitive race for 20 months. He was entitled to get a bit tired and his jumping was a little bit rusty.
He pinged the third and fourth last, and Barry said he thought he was on the winner. But as soon as they turned into the straight and Dodging Bullets came upsides – he knew he was beaten. Sprinter pinged the second last and kept himself competitive but he was running on empty – there was no more left in the tank.
I feel sorry for Dad having to try to mediate and keep everyone happy throughout Sprinter’s journey and deal with everybody’s mixed opinions.
I think NJH, Nico de Boinville (jockey/workrider), Celia Marr (heart specialist) and all the team have done a great job getting him back and ready for the Festival.
Everyone just wants to see the big black beauty back to his best. We’re all optimistic and as hopeful as we can be that he’s going to be somewhere near his best. NJH said he’s certainly going to be competitive and just hopes that he’s going to be good enough.
It’s something he cannot force, and patience has been a virtue throughout the last 12 months. Nothing more can be done, said, or speculated on – we can only turn up and let Barry get on with it. Sprinter is in the best hands and we hope they just go out and enjoy themselves.
Whisper didn’t take to fences at the first attempt on his seasonal debut at Exeter last month. But he won the Coral Cup last year and a Grade One at Aintree after that. He had a bit of a tough time at the back end of last season. The original plan was to go novice chasing, maybe it just got to him a little bit.
He jumped all right at Exeter but there was no point going on doing that. NJH think he’s coming to himself and has been ever improving since his last run over fences and looks fantastic at home.
His daily work rider Ryan Gradwell said he is feeling really well in himself and a little bit mischievous and thinks he will run a cracker. His schooling sessions have be really successful. He and Blue Fashion both did pieces of work at Kempton last Wednesday which was a useful racecourse outing prep for them both.
Barry Geraghty has said that Whisper could be a major player in the three-mile feature on Thursday.
Blue Fashion is a class act and still relatively unexposed. He’s got some very solid form. He was only beaten by two lengths by More Of in 2013 at Haydock giving him 6lbs. The team think he should run a big race in the World Hurdle.
It has always been the plan to send him there fresh, as he’s perform well that way. He’s had hid problems but is a good e is a good horse and deserves to be recognised.
Team Hendo are excited about these two runners but it’s a fiercely competitive with the likes of Paul Nicholls’ Zarkandar and Saphir de Rheu.
Bob has only had the one run this season – the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas – but that was always the plan goes into the Gold Cup fresh and well. Barry was pleased with him in Ireland and said he felt good. He knew that ground was too soft for him, he did well to jump as well as he did for so long.
He thinks that he’ll be a lot better on the better ground with that run under his belt. Hes in the form he’s in at the minute and has a great chance.
It was a strange Gold Cup last year where he just stopped after the last and jinked left slightly– he’d never done that before.
The one thing we always said was if he’s anywhere on the premises jumping the last he’ll gallop up the hill as he always has, five or six times – but he didn’t. While he hasn’t got the class of Sprinter Sacre, but he is a real tryer and those efforts take a lot out of him.
He’s already won a Gold Cup and is a course specialist and Barry thinks Bob has a great chance of emulating the brilliant Kauto Star and regain the Gold Cup.