Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com! Today’s post is a highly requested one, when I asked people to send in some suggestions of ‘people’s horses’ to research, Sprinter Sacre came up 20+ times, with the first person being @Smasher_Smith88 on Twitter so thank you to everyone for the suggestion. I have a spreadsheet where I am continuously adding horses to research and look into as per my Twitter followers so if you want to suggest any horses feel free to send those over so I can add them to my list and attempt to get through them all! So with all of that being said, let’s get right into it!
Sprinter Sacre was foaled on April 23rd in 2006 out of Fatima III by Net in France by Breeder Christophe Masle and was imported to the United Kingdom for owner Caroline Mould to send him into training with Nicky Henderson.
His first race would come just before his 4th birthday on February 20th in 2010 at Ascot where he took part in an Open National Hunt Flat Race (Bumper). He started as the odds on 8/11 favourite and under Barry Geraghty – who would go on to be Sprinter Sacre’s regular jockey for the majority of his career – he won by just a nose to Ruby Walsh on the Paul Nicholls trained horse King Of The Night at 100/30).
There was a 56 day break before Sprinter Sacre returned to the track, this time at Ayr on April 17th 2010 for another National Hunt Flat Race (Bumper) where he started as the favourite once again, this time at 13/8 again under Barry Geraghty, this time winning more comfortably by 4 lengths to Yes Tom (5/1).
Sprinter Sacre then took a 216 day summer holiday before returning to Ascot on November 19th 2010, this time for his first Novices’ Hurdle over 2 miles, 3 and 1/2 furlongs. This time, he would suffer his first defeat of his career, only managing a second place by 1 and 3/4 lengths as the 6/5 favourite under Barry Geraghty behind the 100/30 shot Frascati Park for Nigel Twiston-Davies and Paddy Brennan.
After a quick 78 day break, on February 5th 2011, Sprinter Sacre headed to Ffos Las for his second Novices’ Hurdle, this time as the massively odds on 2/9 favourite under Barry Geraghty he returned to his winning ways, this time winning even more impressively by 10 lengths to Sorcillera (20/1) for John and Rhys Flint.
Just two weeks later on February 19th 2011, Sprinter Sacre returned to Ascot, this time as the 30/100 favourite, again under Barry Geraghty for another Novices’ Hurdle, this time over 1 mile 7 and 1/2 furlongs, where he impressively won by 7 lengths to Polisky (7/2) for Paul Nicholls and Nick Scholfield.
Just under a month later on March 15th 2011, Sprinter Sacre headed to his first Cheltenham Festival. This time under A P McCoy in the Grade One Supreme Novices’ Hurdle as an 11/1 shot, he managed a 3rd place behind the winner, 10/1 shot Al Ferof for Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh and stable mate Spirit Son at 5/1 for Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty in 2nd.
Sprinter Sacre then took a well deserved 269 day summer break, it was then December 9th 2011 when he returned, this time heading to Doncaster for his first Novices’ Chase over 2 miles 1/2 furlong. This time David Bass took the riding claiming 3. He started as the 2/9 favourite and in his most impressive victory so far, he won by a massive 24 lengths to 6/1 shot Lightening Rod for Michael Easterby and Jake Greenall who claimed 5.
Wasting no time, just a few weeks later Sprinter Sacre returned to the track, this time heading to Kempton on December 27th for a second Novices’ Chase. This time he was 11/10 and regular jockey Barry Geraghty was back on board. Impressively he won by 16 lengths, beating the 4/5 favourite Peddlers Cross for Donald McCain and Jason Maguire.
Sprinter Sacre would be seen again after a 52 day break on February 17th 2012 this time at Newbury in the Grade Two Super Saturday Chase – Registered as the Game Spirit Chase. He was the 2/5 favourite and Barry Geraghty took the ride. He ended up winning by 6 lengths to his stable mate French Opera (16/1) for Andrew Tinkler.
Next up for Sprinter Sacre was a return to the Cheltenham Festival on March 13th, this time for the Grade One Arkle Chase over 2 miles. He was the 8/11 favourite and his regular jockey Barry Geraghty took the ride. Here, he impressively won by 7 lengths to Cue Card (13/2) for Colin and Joe Tizzard.
His season didn’t end there, he instead headed to Aintree on April 14th 2012 for another Grade 1, this time a Novices’ Chase. He was a massively odds on price of 1/7 with Barry Geraghty riding. This time winning by 13 lengths to Toubab (10/1) for Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh.
He then took a 238 day break and was not seen again until December 8th 2012, this time for the Grade One Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown. He was, again, the massively odds on favourite of 4/11, again Barry Geraghty riding. This time he impressively won by 15 lengths to Kumbeshwar (25/1) for Alan King and Wayne Hutchinson.
Moving into 2013, Sprinter Sacre headed to Cheltenham on January 26th for the Grade One Victor Chandler Chase – Registered as the Clarence House Steeple Chase. On heavy ground and at 1/5 with Barry Geraghty riding, Sprinter Sacre won by 14 lengths to 50/1 shot Mad Moose for Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies.
It was then time for his 3rd visit to the Cheltenham Festival, this time for the Grade 1 Queen Mother Champion Chase over 2 miles. He was a very short price again at 1/4 with Barry Geraghty riding again. This time he impressively won once again by 19 lengths to Sizing Europe (6/1) for Henry De Bromhead and A E Lynch.
On April 5th, he then headed back to Aintree for the Grade One Melling Chase, again as the odds on favourite at 1/3 and Barry Geraghty riding, he won again, this time by 4 and 1/2 lengths beating Cue Card again at 7/1 for Colin and Joe Tizzard.
However, this time his season didn’t end at Aintree, Nicky Henderson instead sent Sprinter Sacre and Barry Geraghty over to Ireland for the Punchestown Grade 1 Champion Chase on April 23rd. This time he was again odds on at 1/9 and won again beating Sizing Europe again by 5 and 1/2 lengths for Henry De Bromhead and A E Lynch.
Sprinter Sacre then took a 248 day summer break before heading to Kempton on December 27th 2013 for the Grade Two Desert Orchid Chase, however as the 2/9 favourite, under Barry Geraghty, he got pulled up. After the race the vet said he had an irregular heartbeat. On February 2014, Nicky Henderson announced that Sprinter Sacre would miss the remainder of the season saying he had recovered from his heart problems, however he was not working ‘with his usual brilliance’. (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/horseracing/cheltenham-festival/10657004/Sprinter-Sacre-ruled-out-of-Cheltenham-Festival-after-disappointing-Nicky-Henderson-in-work-at-home.html)
It would actually be 386 days later on January 17th 2015 that we would see Sprinter Sacre again, this time at Ascot for the Grade One Clarence House Chase. He was 4/6 favourite and Barry Geraghty took the ride again. This time he finished 2nd by 3 lengths behind Dodging Bullets (7/2) for Paul Nicholls and Noel Fehily. A vet said after the race that he had suffered a low level bleed.
Sprinter Sacre then took a 53 day break before returning to the Cheltenham Festival for a fourth time on March 11th 2015 for the Grade 1 Queen Mother Champion Chase however as the 9/4 favourite, Barry Geraghty pulled him up again. It was reported that after the race he was treated for a back problem.
Just over a month later on April 25th 2015, Sprinter Sacre then headed to Sandown for the Grade 1 AP McCoy Celebration Chase, he was 4/1 and for the first time we seen Nico de Boinville take the ride. However, Sprinter Sacre could only manage a 2nd place, 6 lengths behind the 3/1 favourite Special Tiara for Noel Fehily and Henry De Bromhead.
Sprinter Sacre was then given a 204 day summer break, before he returned to the track on November 15th 2015, this time heading to Cheltenham for the Grade 2 Cheltenham Chase over 2 miles. Here he started as the 15/8 favourite under Nico de Boinville and impressively he returned to winning ways, beating Somersby (5/1) for Brian Hughes and Mick Channon by 14 lengths.
Just over 1 month later on December 27th, Sprinter Sacre headed to Kempton for the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase. He started as the odds on 8/11 favourite under Nico de Boinville and once again, he won. This time beating Sire De Grugy (11/4) by 3/4 of a length for Jamie and Gary Moore.
Sprinter Sacre then took an 80 day break before returning to Cheltenham for his 5th Festival on March 16th 2016 for the Grade 1 Queen Mother Champion Chase. He started at 5/1 under Nico de Boinville and to the surprise of many, he actually won, beating the 4/6 favourite Un De Sceaux for Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins by 3 and 1/2 lengths.
Just one month later, we would see Sprinter Sacre for the final time when he returned to Sandown for the Grade 1 Celebration Chase on April 23rd 2016 where he started the race as the 11/10 favourite under Nico de Boinville and impressively beat Un De Sceaux (5/4) for Paul Townend and Willie Mullins.
Sprinter Sacre took a summer break and was then being prepared for the Tingle Creek Chase, however he sadly sustained a leg tendon injury whilst in training and to the surprise of many, on November 13th 2016 Nicky Henderson announced that he was being retired from racing. He tweeted saying:
He was the horse of an absolute lifetime.”
When interviewed, Nicky Henderson said the following:
If he was seven, you’d say give him a year off and he’d be back. But he’s not seven any more and this is the right thing to do.”https://www.thesun.ie/sport/horse-racing/6451308/sprinter-sacre-retires-horse-of-a-lifetime-which-won-more-than-1million-has-time-called-on-career/#:~:text=%22HORSE%20of%20a%20lifetime%22%20Sprinter,two%2Dmilers%20of%20all%20time.&text=He%20was%20the%20horse%20of%20an%20absolute%20lifetime.%22
If you look at Spinter Sacre’s racing career, it really is something special!
So if we sum that up, he was pulled up twice however the rest of his career he has never finished outside of the top 3, which is a pretty incredible achievement. So all in all, Sprinter Sacre had:
24 x runs
18 x 1st
3 x 2nd
1 x 3rd
2 x Pulled Up
Winning well over £1.1 million, he was truly a horse of a lifetime for his owner and those involved with him.
Some major wins we can see include the Arkle in 2012, the Tingle Creek in 2012, the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2013 and 2016, the Melling Chase in 2013, the Desert Orchid Chase in 2015 and so many more. He was an incredible horse, who I remember watching fondly over the years.
I think his figures and the words of Nicky Henderson speak for themselves, he was a true people’s horse.
Thank you for reading and I will see you all Saturday at 11am for a new post!
2 thoughts on “Sprinter Sacre: What Makes a People’s Horse?”
I’d love to read a piece on John. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves and with the loss of Roy Rocket it’s even harder. A great man in my opinion.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Definitely something I can look into for a future post!