Sprinter Sacre Cruises Home in Arkle Chase
1 Sprinter Sacre 8/11 Fav
Sprinter Sacre turned in a scintillating performance to pummel his rivals in the Racing Post Arkle Chase at Cheltenham.
The Nicky Henderson-trained 8-11 favourite, barely off the bridle in his first three starts over fences, jumped to the front leaving the back straight and when Barry Geraghty gave the giant gelding his head he put daylight between himself and his rivals running down the hill.
Though Cue Card kept on well, Sprinter Sacre was dossing in front and he only had to be pushed out after another excellent leap at the last to come home with seven lengths in hand.
Al Ferof was sent off his main market rival having beaten Sprinter Sacre in last season's Supreme Novices' Hurdle, but he took off way too early at the ditch down the back straight and was never going to get back into it afterwards.
Geraghty said: "He's unbelievable, he has so much pace and scope - I'm not sure I've had the privilege to ride anything like that. Moscow Flyer would always doss and might just beat an average horse a couple of lengths. The way he jumped the third-last he gives you some feel. He knew what he was doing."
Henderson added: "We always hoped he might be a bit special. He was coming here to show off and he's done it. That's the way he loves to do it. He is very flashy and very showy. That jumping was quite unreal. He was always travelling and he's got up the hill.
"He's got so much speed and scope, he's just a dreadful show-off. That was really worth watching. There was no point in Barry stopping him, they gave him a good lead and went a nice pace. When he's jumping like that it's a joy. He looked a proper horse and he was just showing off."
Sprinter Sacre was presenting Henderson with his 40th Cheltenham Festival win, which means he has now equalled the record of Fulke Walwyn.
The trainer went on: "It's nice to get it out of the way on the first day. This was a horse we hoped might do it and he could really be special. You wait for something to come out of the woodwork and be a real champion and it just might be him."
Cue Card's trainer, Colin Tizzard, said: "I think we're all in awe of the front one really. Joe (Tizzard) said he got in his tail nearly on the bend, but then he went away again. It was a brilliant run by Cue Card, but we're up against it with that other one for sure. We'll have to step up in trip or we're going to run into this chap all the time."
Initial quotes and Nicky Henderson equals record
Barry Geraghty - Sprinter Sacre gave him a 21st Festival winner - said: “He’s an unbelievable horse to ride. I have said that he is the possibly best and he might be. Moscow Flyer was class but he was only beating average horses by a couple of lengths - this fellow is class. It’s just the way he does it - the way he jumped the third last - it gives you some feeling.
“He knew what he was doing and, if anything, he was guilty of over jumping. He wasn’t as fresh today - there were seven weeks between Kempton and Newbury and he was very fresh there, but the boss had him in good shape today.”
Nicky Henderson, celebrating his record-equalling 40th Festival winner (see below), said: “We always hoped that he might be a bit special. He was coming here to show off and luckily he has done it. It’s the way he loves to do it - he is very flash and very toey but he can afford to do it.
“He was always travelling and they went a right good gallop. He has got up the hill! I haven’t got as far thinking about whether he will run again this season - we will see.
“That is a special horse with which to equal the record. You wait sometime for something to come out of the woodwork and be a real champion - this might be one.”
Henderson is the joint most successful trainer ever at The Festival, after drawing level with the late Fulke Walwyn’s record of 40 winners following Sprinter Sacre’s impressive success in the second race of the 2012 Festival, the Racing Post Arkle Chase.
“THE LONG DARK AEROPLANE”
Nicky Henderson, trainer of Sprinter Sacre
“We called him the long dark aeroplane beforehand and did he fly. One of his problems is that he’s a dreadful show-off, and wants everyone to watch him by being flash. But that’s just his way and we have to let him do it, and boy, is it worth watching. His jumping is quite unreal and there’s no way we’d try to put a curb on it.
“He’s so big and scopey and if he jumps the way he loves, the only place he’ll land is in front. We had a lead today for long enough and then he was able to show what he can do. He was always travelling and yes, he did come up the hill this year. He’s bigger and stronger than last year [third in his novice hurdle] and he’s not yet fully finished, either. He really is a bit special.”
Barry Geraghty, rider of Sprinter Sacre.
“I have never before schooled a horse round to win a championship race at the Cheltenham Festival. And that’s all it felt like, a schooling session. He has so much scope and power, and he absolutely loved it.
“He is learning to settle now. He’s an exuberant horse who wants to get on with it, but he’ll now come back to you if you ask him. He’s strong and onward-bound, but he’s not pig-headed with it, he’ll tuck in for you.
“I was able to let the others give me a lead, and they went a decent clip, but once Ruby’s horse [Al Ferof] made that mistake, that was it, mine just took me to the front and his jump at the third last was something else. You rarely ride a horse that takes you to a fence like he does.
“They say Mourinho is the Special One but now I think we’ve found another.
“He’s not as good as Moscow Flyer [champion two-miler ridden by Geraghty] but he’s going that way. Moscow Flyer is still the best, he’s got the wins and the runs on the board, but this fella has the potential to be right up there with him. He’s definitely a specialist two-miler, he’s got too much pace to be anything else. Trying anything else would be like asking Frankel to run in the Ascot Gold Cup.”
HENDERSON ACE TRUMPS CUE CARD
Cue Card could not catch the mighty Sprinter Sacre when finishing seven-lengths second in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy Chase but the runner-up’s trainer Colin Tizzard was far from despondent.
“Often you are disappointed when you get beaten but it wasn’t the case there, I’m just delighted he ran so well,” said Tizzard. “We ran into a superstar and it’s nice to be in the same ring as him. We could go for the two and a half mile race at Aintree now.”
Third-placed Menorah could be aimed at the same target. His trainer Philip Hobbs commented: “He ran fine, he made a bit of a mistake at the second last but we have no real excuses.
“The winner looked exceptional, he’s obviously very good. We might go to Aintree and step him up to two and a half miles there.”
Al Ferof made a bad blunder when leading four out and was struggling from there on, eventually finishing fourth. Trainer Paul Nicholls said: “He made that mistake and it was game over. You cannot make that sort of mistake at that ditch and hope to get away with it. We’ll give him one more run this season over two and a half miles.”
THE RACING POST ARKLE CHASE FACTS AND FIGURES
1. The Racing Post Arkle Chase was inaugurated in 1969, after Arkle’s three wins in the Cheltenham Gold Cup (1964- 66). In its first year, the race was worth £1,365, and was won by Chatham (10/1), trained by Fred Rimell and ridden by Terry Biddlecombe. The 2012 running has total prize money of £130,000. It was known as the Cotswold Chase before 1969.
2. The Racing Post, which backs the Arkle Chase for the first time in 2012, is only the race’s fourth sponsor. The Irish Independent was the sponsor from 2000 to 2011, Guinness sponsored from 1994 until 1999 and Waterford Cystal supported the race between 1991 and 1993.
3. The Racing Post Arkle Chase has always been a fiercely contested event, and the following winners have gone on to other Championship victories at The Festival:
2010 Sizing Europe (sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase 2011)
4. The lowest number of runners has been eight (1979, 1984 & 1993) and the highest 19 (1987 & 2005) as the Arkle Chase - there were 25 runners in the Cotswold Chase in 1960. The current safety limit is 20.
5. The Racing Post Arkle Chase has seen several trainers and jockeys run up strings of wins. Martin Pipe notched up successive wins with Or Royal in 1997 and Champleve in 1998 before Well Chief in 2004 and Contraband a year later gave him another brace of victories. Peter Easterby trained three winners - Alverton 1978, Clayside 1981 and Ryeman 1983. Among current trainers, Nicky Henderson leads the way with three successes (Remittance Man 1991, Travado 1993 and Tiutchev 2000), while both Paul Nicholls (Flagship Uberalles in 1999 and Azertyuiop in 2003) and Alan King (My Way De Solzen in 2007 and Voy Por Ustedes in 2006) both boast a pair of victories. Among jockeys, Jamie Osborne won three times, via a hat-trick between 1992 and 1994 on Young Pokey, Travado, and Nakir for three different trainers, Oliver Sherwood, Nicky Henderson and Simon Christian. A P McCoy equalled Osborne’s three wins in 2004 when scoring on Well Chief, having also been aboard Or Royal (1997) and Champleve (1998).
6. Irish trainers have won the Racing Post Arkle Chase 11 times, including five of the last 15 runnings with Klairon Davis (1995), Ventana Canyon (1996), Moscow Flyer (2002), Forpadydeplasterer (2009) and Sizing Europe (2010).
7. The longest-priced winner was Gala’s Image, successful at 25/1 in 1987, while Pendil (1972) and Chinrullah (1979) were the shortest-priced scorers at 10/11. Six other favourites have won - Canasta Lad (1974), Clayside (1981), Bobsline (1984), Remittance Man (1991), Klairon Davis (1995) and Azertyuiop (2003).
8. The fastest time for the two miles of the Racing Post Arkle Chase was 3m 46.5s by Tiutchev in 2000, beating the previous best of 3m 52.5s set by Or Royal in 1997.
9. Until 1980, the Racing Post Arkle Chase was always run on the Wednesday of the The Festival. It now takes place on the opening day, Tuesday.
THE RACING POST ARKLE CHALLENGE TROPHY CHASE
2011-WINNER-CAPTAIN CHRIS 7-11-07 Owner-Diana Whateley; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-6/1 2ND-Finian’s Rainbow 8-11-07 Owner-Michael Buckley; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-7/2 3RD-Realt Dubh 7-11-07 Owner-Des Sharkey; Trainer-Noel Meade IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-17/2
2010-WINNER-SIZING EUROPE 6-11-07 Owner-Ann & Alan Potts Partnership; Trainer-Henry de Bromhead IRE; Jockey-Andrew Lynch; SP-6/1 2ND-Somersby 6-11-07 Owner-Camilla Radford; Trainer-Henrietta Knight; Jockey-Robert Thornton; SP-4/1 3RD-Osana 8-11-07 Owner-Thomas Barr; Trainer-Edward O’Grady IRE; Jockey-Andrew McNamara; SP-14/1 12 ran, Time-3m 52.60s Dist-•, 1 • 5/2 Fav Captain Cee Bee (8th)
2009-WINNER-FORPADYDEPLASTERER 7-11-07 Owner-Goat Racing Syndicate; Trainer-Tom Cooper IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-8/1
2008-WINNER-TIDAL BAY 7-11-07 Owner-Andrea & Graham Wylie; Trainer-Howard Johnson; Jockey-Denis O’Regan; SP-6/1
WAY DE SOLZEN 7-11-07 Owner-Ben
Winfield, A Longman, J Wright & C Fenton; Trainer-Alan King; Jockey-Robert
POR USTEDES 5-11-02 Owner-Sir Robert Ogden; Trainer-Alan
King; Jockey-Robert Thornton; SP-15/2
2005-WINNER-CONTRABAND 7-11-07 Owner-David Johnson; Trainer-Martin Pipe;
Jockey-Timmy Murphy; SP-7/1
3RD-River City 8-11-07 Owner-Mrs S Rowley-Williams & Partners; Trainer-Noel Chance; Jockey-Tom Doyle; SP- 10/1 19 ran, Time-3m 53.10s Dist-1, 4 11/4 Fav War Of Attrition (7th)
2004-WINNER-WELL CHIEF 5-11-03 Owner-David Johnson; Trainer-Martin Pipe;
Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-9/1
2003-WINNER-AZERTYUIOP 6-11-08 Owner-John & Lisa
Hales; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-5/4 Fav
2002-WINNER-MOSCOW FLYER 8-11-08 Owner-Brian Kearney; Trainer-Jessica
Harrington IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-11/2
2001 - Cancelled
2000-WINNER-TIUTCHEV 7-11-08 Owner-The Liars Poker Partnership; Trainer-Nicky
Henderson; Jockey-Mick FitzGerald; SP-8/1
1999-WINNER-FLAGSHIP UBERALLES 5-11-00 Owner-Elizabeth
Gutner & Michael
Krysztofiak Racing; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Joe Tizzard; SP-11/1
1998-WINNER-CHAMPLEVE 5-11-00 Owner-David Johnson; Trainer-Martin Pipe;
Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-13/2
1997-WINNER-OR ROYAL 6-11-08 Owner-David Johnson; Trainer-Martin Pipe;
Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-11/2
1996-WINNER-VENTANA CANYON 7-11-08 Owner-Philip
Myerscough; Trainer-Edward O’Grady IRE; Jockey-Richard Dunwoody;
THE RACING POST ARKLE CHASE ROLL OF HONOUR
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