SPRINTER SACRE returns at Ascot

Pretty much everything about the return of Sprinter Sacre is penned within countless reports and articles. After much deliberation, connections decided to send him to Newbury for his well-documented racecourse gallop. Apart from a mistake at the first fence, caused by a premature departure from terra firma, he jumped and galloped with style and exuberance. He finished the work looking a horse on his game.

His subsequent work and schooling has pleased his trainer, though it is worth pointing out that some negative rumours continue to surface from the depths of Lambourn. SS’s absence of three-hundred and eighty-six days is a concern when assessing the race today. It is a known fact that horses away from action are liable to return below the height of their powers. We are not talking average handicappers that are well-handicapped, this is a Grade One race. Perhaps the best analogy is that of Denman’s return following a similar problem. Following an eleven-month enforced absence, he was easily beaten in a Grade Two at Kempton Park. He followed that with a second in the Gold Cup. There he ran approximately 11lb below his performance in the same race the year before. He then fell at Aintree when arguably, looking beaten. Interestingly and perhaps surprisingly, following a summer break, he returned at the height of his powers to win the Hennessy Gold Cup for a second time. Indeed three of his four highest RPR’s came in that race.

Rightly or wrongly, I believe SS’s visit to Punchestown in 2013 may have been the catalyst to his heart problems. He had run two ridiculously high identical RPR’s of 190 at Cheltenham and Aintree. In addition, at Cheltenham, he recorded a sensational time figure. At Punchestown, he ran, 11lb below those figures. Add in the travel and hullabaloo that surrounded the event, allied to a hard fought win, and we may have the foundations of his problems. All we can do is wish him a safe journey round Ascot’s two-mile track finishing leading to a healthy horse post-race. I along with thousands of others will watch with both anticipation and trepidation.

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