Sprinter Sacre is to miss the Cheltenham Festival Image reproduced with the kind permission of Punchestown Racecourse

Sprinter Sacre is to miss the Cheltenham Festival
Image reproduced with the kind permission of Punchestown Racecourse

After weeks of speculation Nicky Henderson has confirmed that Sprinter Sacre will not defend his Queen Mother Champion Chase title this March.

The news came after the horse was pulled up on his seasonal debut at Kempton Park in December, after which it was discovered that he was suffering from an irregular heartbeat.

Whilst tests and monitors have suggested that the problem has resolved itself, Henderson has suffered from flooding and has been unable to prepare Sprinter Sacre as he would have wished.

Speaking to the Racing Post, Henderson said:

“Sprinter’s work over ten furlongs was all right, and with any other horse you’d think it was fine, but Sprinter is not showing the same brilliance as last season; he is just ten per cent short of that.

“Thankfully his heart is fine and there is no problem there.”

“Having discussed options with [owners] Caroline and Raymond Mould, [work rider] Nico de Boinville, who has ridden him every morning for three seasons, and [vet] Celia Marr, who has been monitoring his heart, it was agreed that we should pull stumps for the time being.

“Now we will concentrate on getting Sprinter back next season to the same form he showed last season.”

Whilst we are disappointed with this Henderson’s open approach to this issue is commendable and his priority has always been the horse’s welfare. We cannot wait to see a fully revitalised Sprinter Sacre next season and hope he is able to repay connections’ faith.