Sprinter Sacre: What Makes a People’s Horse?

Good Evening!

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.”


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!


The History of the Queen Mother Champion Chase

Good Evening!

I hope you’ve all had a brilliant first day of the Cheltenham Festival. I hope you all had plenty of winners and are excited for tomorrow’s day. Focusing in on tomorrow, tonight’s post is all about the Queen Mother Champion Chase, I hope you enjoy and I hope you learn something new as you read!

The Queen Mother Champion Chase is a Grade 1 National Hunt Steeplechase and is ran over 1 mile 7 furlong and 199 yards and is open to five year olds and older. The race takes place at the Cheltenham Festival on the 2nd day, the Wednesday, first taking place in 1959.

The first winner in 1959 was Quita Que for jockey Bunny Cox, trainer Dan Moore and owner Mrs D. R. Brand.

The first horse to win twice in a row followed up for the next two years, 1960 and 1961, both won by Fortria, both times for jockey Pat Taaffe, trainer Tom Dreaper and owner George Ansley.

The next horse to win twice in a row was Drinny’s Double who won in 1967 and 1968, both times for jockey Frank Nash, trainer Bob Turnell and owner Paul Mellon. This wouldn’t happen again until 1976 and 1977, when Skymas won for jockey Mouse Morris, trainer Brian Lusk and owner Matt Magee. It then happened again for the next two years when Hilly Way won the 1978 and 1979 running of the race, firstly for jockey Tommy Carmody, trainer Peter McCreery and owner J. W. Sweeney, the second time with Ted Walsh riding.

The next notable horse was Badsworth Boy who, to this day, holds the record for being the most successful horse in the race. He won in 1983, 1984 and again in 1985. All three times with Robert Earnshaw riding for owner Doug Armitage, the first two runs being for trainer Michael Dickinson and the final time for trainer, from the same family, Monica Dickinson.

The next notable name is Pearlyman, who won twice, once in 1987 and again in 1988. The first time rode by Peter Scudamore for trainer John Edwards and owner Valerie Shaw, the second time with jockey Tom Morgan on board. The next two years were then won by the Barnbrook Again, in 1989 Simon Sherwood rode for trainer David Elsworth and owner Mel Davies, in 1990 with Hywel Davies on board.

We then have Viking Flagship who won twice, once in 1994 and again in 1995. Firstly for Adrian Maguire riding for trainer David Nicholson for owners Roach Foods Ltd, secondly for Charlie Swan.

Other notable winners include One Man in 1998, Edredon Bleu in 2000, Moscow Flyer in 2003 as well as 2005, Master Minded who successfully won in 2008 and 2009, both times for Ruby Walsh riding for Paul Nicholls for owner Clive Smith. We then have Sizing Europe winning in 2011, Sprinter Sacre who won in 2013 and again in 2016, Sire de Grugy who won in 2014, Altior who won in 2018 and 2019, both times for Nico de Boinville, Nicky Henderson and owner Patricia Pugh. We then have the 2020 winner of this race, Politologue for jockey Harry Skelton for Paul Nicholls for owner John Hales.

Some interesting things to note, in 1980 Chinrullah finishished first, however was later disqualified after testing positive for a banned substance. And the 2001 running was cancelled due to a foot and mouth crisis, a substitute race was later run at Sandown.

As I mentioned above, the most successful horse is the only horse to have won this race 3 times and that is Badsworth Boy who won in 1983, 1984 and 1985.

There are two leading jockey’s in the race, both with 5 wins:
Pat Taaffe – Fortria (1960 & 1961), Ben Stack (1964), Flyingbolt (1966) and Straight Fort (1970)
Barry Geraghty – Moscow Flyer (2003 & 2005), Big Zeb (2010), Finian’s Rainbow (2012) and Sprinter Sacre (2013)

There are 3 leading trainers in the race, all with 6 wins each:
Tom Dreaper – Fortria (1960 & 1961), Ben Stack (1964), Flyingbolt (1966), Muir (1969) and Straight Fort (1970)
Nicky Henderson – Remittance Man (1992), Finian’s Rainbow (2012), Sprinter Sacre (2013 & 2016) and Altior (2018 & 2019)
Paul Nicholls – Call Equiname (1999), Azertyuiop (2004), Master Minded (2008 & 2009), Dodging Bullets (2015) and Politologue (2020)

We then have three leading owners, all with 3 wins each:
George Ansley – Fortria (1960 & 1961) and Straight Fort (1970)
Doug Armitage – Badsworth Boy (1983, 1984 & 1985)
John Hales – One Man (1998), Azertyuiop (2004) and Politologue (2020)

So there we have it, the history of the Queen Mother Champion Chase. I am very much looking forward to tomorrow’s renewal of the race, I think it always turns out to be a good race and tomorrow should be no different. I hope you all enjoyed this post and hopefully learned something new whilst reading.

I will hopefully see you all in tomorrow’ evening’s post at the same time of 6pm for The History of the Stayers’ Hurdle!

An Interview with Barry Geraghty

Hi guys!

I am very excited to bring to you all today an interview with, in my opinion, one of the best jockeys I have had the honour of growing up and watching. I am very grateful to Barry for taking time out of his day to allow me to speak all things racing. Let’s get straight into it!

Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?

Barry: I grew up dreaming of being a jockey and of winning the English Grand National. I hoped that some day I might get the chance to win it, but I never thought it would happen as easily as it did, and I presumed I would be a lot older than 23 by the time I’d won it.

Me: If you could ride any horse that you never have, past or present, what horse would you choose?

Barry: To me, Istabraq was the ultimate hurdler. He had so much class, jumped brilliantly and was unbelievable around Cheltenham.

Me: What are your opinions surrounding the discussions of banning the whip?

Barry: Personally I feel with all the modifications to the whip itself make it as harmless as it is brilliant and I also believe the rule changes in recent years to both reduce the number of strikes and penalising jockeys for hitting horses out of contention are sufficient. The whip is a vital piece of equipment to help control a horse for its safety and the safety of others.

Me: What is one race you’d love to have won that you never did?

Barry: I was very fortunate to have won most of the major races in England and Ireland throughout my career. The only Grade One at the Cheltenham Festival that I didn’t win was the Supreme Novice Hurdle, so I’ll go with that.

Me: You’ve rode some incredible horses in your career such as Moscow Flyer, Sprinter Sacre, Bobs Worth, Monty’s Pass, Buveur D’Air and so many more… What would you say is the best horse you rode and why? And not necessarily the best, but your favourite horse to ride and why?

Barry: I was very fortunate to ride a lot of great horses over the years an I’ve never been able to split Moscow Flyer and Sprinter Sacre. They were two amazing horses but very different. Sprinter oozed class and was always so impressive in his races but Moscow on the other hand would be an average horse by two to three lengths and beat Azertiyoup by the same, he also went four full years unbeaten. They were both a real thrill on the racecourse.

Me: What was your favourite racecourse to ride at and why?

Barry: There is no racecourse that you get the same buzz for winning whether you are a professional or punter as you get at Cheltenham.

Me: You finished your riding career as the 2nd most successful jockey at the Cheltenham Festival behind Ruby Walsh with 43 winners in total, out of all of those winners, what one stands out the most to you as the one you enjoyed the most?

Barry: I probably got my biggest kick out of winning the Champion Hurdle last year on Epatante for two of my biggest supporters JP McManus and Nicky Henderson. I knew going into the meeting that it was my last Festival as a jockey, so to win one of the feature races in my last year meant so much.

Me: The green and gold silks are arguably the most recognisable within racing, did you ever feel any pressure riding for JP McManus knowing people would automatically look at your horse due to the silks you were wearing?

Barry: There was always an element of pressure when riding for a big stable or owner but the pressure I always felt was more what I put myself under to get the result than external pressure from anyone else.

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks racing is animal cruelty?

Barry: Like all field sports there is a risk of injury involved in racing, but it is in no way cruel. From the time a racehorse is born they are cared for like royalty, with the best feed, living accommodation and care any animal could wish for. That continues throughout their racing career and through their rehoming in retirement.

Me: You rode for some incredible trainers throughout your career, what was the best piece of advice you was given in general or for a specific race that you can remember?

Barry: When Nicky Henderson would give you your riding instructions at the Cheltenham Festival he would finish it with ‘have a nice time’, that is Nicky’s way of trying to take any pressure off you. It was always lovely to hear in that pressurised environment.

Me: You won Champion Jockey in Ireland twice, do you ever look back at your career and wish you had attempted to take AP McCoy’s crown and won the British Jockey Championship?

Barry: I enjoyed being Champion Jockey in Ireland on both occasions, but I was always drawn more to the chance to ride a good horse in a big race rather than chasing around the country every day of the week trying to find winners. Big days mattered more to me.

Me: If you could choose a banker for the Cheltenham Festival 2021, who would you currently choose?

Barry: Envoi Allen in the Marsh Chase.

Me: In the 12 months between 2004-2005, Kicking King went on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the King George twice, for a young racing fan like myself who doesn’t really remember him, describe how good of a horse was he to ride?

Barry: Kicking King was very good, he was a big, strong horse with a lot of scope. He had a lot of natural pace as a three miler but also proved he stayed well when winning the Gold Cup, but for injury he could’ve won a few more.

Me: You’ve won the Grand National so you know what it takes, do you believe Tiger Roll could go on to win for a 3rd time? If not, is there any horse that has caught your eye that could take the crown?

Barry: Tiger Roll has proved how good he is around Aintree and with luck on his side there is no reason why he couldn’t return and win it again, the only problem is you need a lot of luck!

Me: In a great career, to finish as the fourth most successful British and Irish jump jockey with 1920 wins, do you look back and wish you had done anything different?

Barry: You always learn from your mistakes and that’s what makes you a better rider, so without the mistakes you won’t improve.

Me: What is your best advice for young people who have a passion they want to follow, whether that be racing or something else?

Barry: Follow your dream, give it all you can but most importantly try and enjoy it.

I want to say a huge thank you to Barry for taking time out to answer some questions and talk all things racing. I grew up watching Barry compete so it truly is an honour to have him take part in my blog and to support what I am doing and wish me luck moving forward. Hearing someone like Barry tell me how much he enjoyed answering these questions instead of regular every day questions means a lot to myself.

I absolutely loved this one, so I hope my readers enjoy it also.

I will see you all in my next post which will be Wednesday (20/01/2021) at 6pm which is a brand new interview with Harry Cobden!