To horse racing fans across the world, Sprinter Sacre needs no introduction. His come back from injury to win at the Cheltenham festival was for me one of those spine-tingling moments that won’t be forgotten. I think all of us were willing Sprinter on that day! The courage these horses show, wearing their heart on their sleeve as they battle it out over the fences is what racing is all about. For me, Sprinter epitomizes everything there is to love about the sport; a warrior, with the heart of a lion.
Bred in France, his racing career began with a win in 2010 under Barry Geraghty followed by his first Cheltenham Festival win in the 2012 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase. The succeeding seasons saw Sprinter claim many major wins, with the first of his Queen Mother Champion Chase wins coming in 2013 by 19 lengths. Sprinter was the first horse since Istabraq to win at all three major jumps festivals.
With injuries and setbacks in the following seasons, it was hard to imagine Sprinter would make one of the greatest comebacks that we may ever witness. Pulling up at Kempton in 2013 it was revealed Sprinter had an irregular heartbeat. After almost a years break, missing the whole 2013/14 season Sprinter raced again but had not returned to his winning ways.
In November 2015 Sprinter returned to win by over 14 lengths in the Shloer Chase; a moment I remember so well as Sprinter gallantly moved away from the rest of the field. He had a win at Kempton that December but the season culminated at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival with Sprinter winning a second Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2016. Sprinter was back! Sprinter’s final race was to be at Sandown Park where he won the Grade 1 Celebration Chase. He had been set to continue as he was aimed towards the 2016 Tingle Creek, however in November 2016, Nicky Henderson announced that Sprinter would be retired following an injury in training. He was paraded by his lad Sarwah Mohammed in the paddock at Cheltenham racecourse before the Shloer Chase. In a press conference, Nicky described Sprinter Sacre as "the horse of an absolute lifetime."
With winnings of over a million pounds, he currently has the third highest ever Timeform steeplechase rating of 192p, behind only Arkle on 212 and Flyingbolt on 210 as the highest in the modern era. Two Champion Chase wins cement Sprinter as one of the all time greats of National Hunt racing.
"His ability and charisma go together. He is the epitome of the horse who looks the part, moves the part and is the part. Life will have to go on without him. It has been such an emotional time over the last five or six years but I have loved every minute of it."
In the January of 2018, Sprinter arrived on Vicki’s yard. It was a hotly talked about topic as to where Sprinter was. We knew he’d been to several eventers yards, but after a long period of not knowing where he was, we were all very excited when his Facebook page was set up to give us regular updates with his new owner!
The pressure has been taken away from him with his new owner, and when the time comes and he’s ready, he will have the opportunity to try all those new things. Vicki said he owes her absolutely nothing so it will all be done at his own pace, as and when he wants. But for now he enjoys hacking out, popping over logs in the woods and spending time in the field with his buddies! Vicki also laughed, saying he still likes to be in front and won’t let anyone else come up alongside him out hacking! She has many race horses come to her yard, but when she was asked if she’d like Sprinter, she knew she couldn’t say no. The public were very excited to hear he was doing so well and were delighted to learn that he would be parading at 2019 Cheltenham Festival and the Lambourn Open Day – he stood for hours with his fans posing for selfies – it’s clear he’s still a much loved legend. Sprinter was reunited with his lad Sarwah at the Lambourn Open Day and there were many tears shed as they met again. These stars are so loved by those that know them, cared for them and followed their careers.
Wayward Lad Novices' Chase (2011) Game Spirit Chase (2012) Arkle Challenge Trophy (2012) Maghull Novices' Chase (2012) Tingle Creek Chase (2012) Victor Chandler Chase (2013) Queen Mother Champion Chase (2013, 2016) Melling Chase (2013) Punchestown Champion Chase (2013) Shloer Chase (2015) Desert Orchid Chase (2015) Celebration Chase (2016)