Sprinter Sacre makes it 10 out of 10 at Punchestown
Henderson’s seven-year-old emphasises his pedigree in the step up in distance
Barry Geraghty riding Sprinter Sacre clear the last to win The Boylesports.com Champion Chase at Punchestown. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Sprinter Sacre extended his unbeaten record over fences to 10 as he landed the Boylesports.com Champion Chase at Punchestown.
Nicky Henderson’s incredibly talented seven-year-old was a breathtaking winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham last month and a step up to two and a half miles had little effect as he routed his rivals in Aintree’s Melling Chase.
Making his first appearance on Irish soil a little under three weeks later, the athletic gelding was unsurprisingly a red-hot 1-9 favourite to get the job done again and his supporters had few worries for much of the two-mile journey.
Travelling with his trademark enthusiasm and jumping with his usual panache in the hands of Barry Geraghty, Sprinter Sacre moved up to challenge admirable veteran and multiple Grade One winner Sizing Europe for the lead rounding the home turn.
While Sprinter Sacre had eased 19 lengths clear at Cheltenham in March, Sizing Europe made a real race of it on this occasion, but Henderson’s star began to assert on the run to the final fence. Much to the delight of the Irish faithful, he safely negotiated the obstacle and pulled further clear on the run-in to take the prize by five and a half lengths.
“Job done,” Henderson said. “He was at his best at Cheltenham, he wasn’t quite as sharp at Aintree and wasn’t as sharp today. Even if you go into what you think is an easy race, the atmosphere and the crowds are still going to take it out of you.
“To do all three (Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown) is very, very hard and he’s had to work harder today than he has in the past. He didn’t do anything wrong. He was clean and confident and fair play to Sizing Europe, who ran a hell of a race.
“I’d imagine he’ll do the same next season.” Geraghty said: “Sizing Europe put it up to us today and I had to work hard. Heavy ground probably doesn’t suit my lad as well and from four out it wasn’t as easy.
“It was still a good performance.”
Henry de Bromhead was rightly proud of Sizing Europe’s terrific performance in defeat.
The trainer said: “He (Sizing Europe) was superb. I said to Andrew (Lynch) to go and throw the kitchen sink at your man (Sprinter Sacre) and we got him off the bridle, but he’s an incredible horse. At least we saw Barry having to push him out today.”