Who dares wins. The problem is, when it comes to Sprinter Sacre, few seem to dare. In some ways that isn’t too surprising. British Horseracing Authority classifications rate Sprinter Sacre on 188, 18 lbs ahead of the next best 2-mile chasers, Flemenstar and Sire de Grugy (169).
Flemenstar was never in line for the williamhill.com Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton next week, the race in which Sprinter Sacre makes his belated reappearance. Sire De Grugy was, but the presence of Sprinter has given trainer Gary Moore second thoughts about running his charge. Yesterday he said, “Nothing is cast in stone right now, but I've spoken with the owner and we might just decide to miss Christmas altogether with Sire De Grugy. I'm highly tempted to sit tight and wait for Ascot.” The Ascot race he's referring to is the old Victor Chandler Chase, now called the Clarence House, and it could well turn out to be the race that we thought Kempton's Desert Orchid Chase might be.
Sizing Europe comes next in the rankings on 167. He ran over 3 miles in his last race, but trainer Henry de Bromhead said last month that was an experiment that was over. The plan is for Sizing Europe to run on 27 December, but along with the other leading Irish two milers Arvika Ligeonniere, and, possibly, Twinlight, that will be at Leopardstown in the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase. Nicky Henderson plans to send Kid Cassidy over to Ireland for this race rather than take on his stablemate.
Somersby is next in the British standings on 164, followed by Simonsig on 162, and neither of those will line up against Sprinter Sacre. Somersby’s former trainer Henrietta Knight recently described him as “quite delicate and a bit neurotic.” He had a month off between winning his seasonal debut in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter and an excellent second place in the Tingle Creek at the start of this month.
Nicky Henderson’s grey Simonsig is out injured at the moment, so it’s becoming difficult to see whom else might run. In practice, it should be little more than an opportunity to remind Sprinter Sacre what a racecourse looks like, a walkover in all but name. Yet for one set of connections, it offers the chance of the record books showing their horse finished second to Sprinter Sacre. And funny things do happen in racing. Could the Desert Orchid Chase be one of them?