Is Sprinter Sacre the best horse since Arkle? That’s the suggestion, or perhaps it’s the hype that is emanating from Ireland, amidst speculation that the horse may have his next race in the Boylesports.com Champion Chase on the first day of the Punchestown Festival in a couple of weeks time.
Trainer Nicky Henderson sparked serious consideration of the idea of sending Sprinter Sacre outside Britain for the first time, and the possibility has had the phone lines at the course red hot, as PR Director Shona Dreaper explained. “We’ve had Denman here and Kauto star and they’ve all had an impact, but the idea of Sprinter Sacre running has ignited the imagination of a much wider audience. We’ve had an awful lot of people, non-racing types, calling up asking what day he could run and then making their bookings for that day just because of Sprinter Sacre.”
But is Sprinter Sacre better than Desert Orchid, Denman and Kauto Star? Part of the excitement about him running at Punchestown is that he will be defending an unbeaten run of nine consecutive races. Another factor is that on the last time both Denman and Kauto Star ran in Ireland, they were beaten. They contested the Guinness Gold Cup at Punchestown in successive seasons, with Denman finishing fourth in 2010, and Kauto Star pulling up a year later.
Sprinter Sacre is priced at 1/8 for the race, so defeat will bring a lot of castles will come falling down, not least because in all probability it will be an Irish bred horse that conquers him; victory and his reputation will be stoked up further.