Desert Orchid Chase
Grade 2, Kempton Park 14:00
£80,000 added, 4yo plus,
2m, Class 1  
Sunday 27th December 2015

1 Sprinter Sacre 8/11F
2 Sire De Grugy 11/4
3 Vibrato Valtat 6/1
5 ran Distances: ¾l, 3¾l, 10l
TIME 3m 55.80s

Sprinter Sacre beats Sire De Grugy in the Desert Orchid! What a finish!

Sprinter Sacre
© Racehorse Photos

Sprinter Sacre
Pulled up in this race two years ago and subsequently diagnosed with a fibrillating heart, it has been a long road back for Sprinter Sacre, but having looked back to his best when winning at Cheltenham last month, Nicky Henderson's pride and joy was the 8-11 favourite under Nico de Boinville.

The Gary Moore-trained Sire De Grugy, like Sprinter Sacre a former winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase, was similarly resurgent in the Tingle Creek at Sandown three weeks ago and was next best in the market at 11-4.

Jamie Moore appeared to make a deliberate effort to stretch the field by sending Sire De Grugy to the lead leaving the back straight, but De Boinville covered the move and swiftly allowed his mount to move ominously alongside.

Sprinter Sacre seemed to be going the better after jumping the third fence from the finish, but Sire De Grugy would not go down without a fight and maintained a small advantage approaching the last.

However, Sprinter Sacre produced a prodigious leap just when he needed one and after landing running, he galloped to the line to prevail by three-quarters of a length.

De Boinville said: "It was a very gutsy performance. We were spot on at the last and Jamie just missed it. He's a great horse.

"I'd say we were a bit below the Cheltenham run, but still he showed he's got heart as well as class.

"Every day this horse runs and puts up good performance like that we feel blessed that we are here in one piece and running good races.

"For any jockey this is why we do it, it was a tremendous race to be in. We know Sire De Grugy is a good horse in his own right, it was a great race."

Henderson said: "Today he had to be a completely different Sprinter. Two miles round here is just sharp enough for him, he had to go and lock horns with him at the last down the back and you couldn't just swing straight past him like he can on a stiffer track.

"There was just that concern about coming back to Kempton, but you'd have to say his heart and everything was in that all right. He was really good and Nico gave him a lovely ride. They had to be very brave at the last, but he's that sort of horse - he's got the class but sometimes you have to tough it out as well."

Henderson went on: "It's all a step forward, but an entirely different step. The other horse looked to be getting the better of it, but the way he's kept on you'd have to say there wasn't a lot wrong. There was the 'coming back to Kempton' thing, but he certainly hasn't remembered what happened."

Henderson's immediate reaction about a plan for 2016 was to dodge the Newbury trial in February. He added: "The one thing I wouldn't want to do is look at the Game Spirit on heavy ground. "The options aren't exactly staring us in the face, and I'm not worried if he doesn't have another run (before Cheltenham)."

Moore was delighted with Sire De Grugy, and said: "He's put up a great performance on ground that wasn't ideal. I'm looking forward to taking him to the Clarence House now (Ascot on January 23) and then to the Queen Mother." Desert Orchid Chase
£80,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m, Class 1
5 ran
Going: Good to Soft, Soft in Places

Pos Dist Horse SP Jockey Weight Trainer Age
1st Sprinter Sacre (FR) 8/11f Nico de Boinville
N J Henderson 9
2nd ¾ Sire De Grugy (FR) 11/4 J E Moore
G L Moore 9
3rd Vibrato Valtat (FR) 6/1 Sam Twiston-Davies
P F Nicholls 6
4th 10 Somersby (IRE) 12/1 B Hughes
M R Channon 11
5th 12 Sir Valentino (FR) 33/1 P J Brennan
T R George 6

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