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|Is Sprinter Sacre the real deal?|
There have been some truly amazing two mile chasers over the past thirty years or so, such as the likes of Badsworth Boy, Viking Flagship, Moscow Flyer and Master Minded to name but four.
However, the latest name on everybody's lips in that division has the potential to be the best of them all. The Nicky Henderson-trained Sprinter Sacre quite simply blew the opposition away on his latest start at Newbury in a race that used to be known as the Game Spirit. Those looking for tips for 2012 Cheltenham would have taken notice.
The frightening thing for his future opponents is that despite jockey Barry Geraghty taking his foot off the gas in the closing stages, the six-year-old still managed to break the course record set 22 years ago by Barnbrook Again, who incidentally went on to capture two successive Queen Mother Champion Chases.
That performance dispelled any doubts that he had caught the useful Peddler's Cross on an off-day when slaughtering him to the tune of 16-lengths at Kempton just after Christmas. As it turned out the McCain horse was beaten out of sight by a very, very good horse on the day.
On his last visit to Cheltenham 12 months ago, Sprinter Sacre stopped to nothing up the famous hill after leading at the last in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, and strictly on that form would have over five lengths to find with Al Ferof should they line up against each other in the Arkle. However, a subsequent wind operation should prevent that scenario happening again and anyone following the Betfair Cheltenham 2012 betting should remember this.
His supporters can also take heart from the trainer's assessment that he was always just biding his time over timber, with chasing the number one priority. Likened to the stable's 1992 Champion Chase hero Remittance Man by Henderson, it's not hard to imagine Sprinter Sacre even now proving troublesome to Sizing Europe and co-that will have to wait though, as by natural progression he first has to lift the youngster's crown. Judged on events so far, that looks a given on Tuesday March 13th.