Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Sprinter Sacre Stunning Winner at Cheltenham

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Sprinter Sacre beat favourite Un De Sceaux to win the coveted Queen Mother Champion Chase for a second time at the Cheltenham Festival.

With three former winners in the big race, Nicky Henderson's 10-year-old 5-1 shot, ridden by Nico de Boinville, powered home by seven lengths.

Ruby Walsh, seeking his 50th Festival winner, was second on the Willie Mullins-trained 4-6 favourite.

Outsider Special Tiara (16-1) was third for trainer Henry de Bromhead.

Sprinter Sacre was a dominant winner by 19 lengths three years ago but did not race in 2014 after an irregular heartbeat was detected.

After two second-place finishes last year he won by 14 lengths at Cheltenham in November and then added the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton the following month when he eclipsed Sire De Grugy.

"It's been a long, long journey - those were two very, very grim years," Henderson said.

"That was unbelievable. That was about dreams, wasn't it?"

Walsh and Mullins had continued their remarkable start to the Festival with victory in the opening race on day two.

Having secured three wins on the opening day, Walsh rode the Mullins-trained six-year-old Yorkhill to another in the Novices' Hurdle.

Walsh, who rode the Mullins-trained Annie Power to victory in day one's feature, the Champion Hurdle. steered Yorkhill on an inside path and turned for home to beat favourite Yanworth by a length and three-quarters.

Its'afreebee stuck on pluckily for third, seven lengths further back.

Walsh was in contention again on Roi Des Francs in the RSA Chase but eventually faded to sixth as the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Blaklion, (8-1) ridden by 22-year-old Ryan Hatch, prevailed in a gripping tussle with Shaneshill to win by half a length.

Favourite More Of That, ridden by Barry Geraghty, was third, another eight lengths in arrears.

Gordon Elliott's eight-year-old Diamond King, (12-1) with Davy Russell on board, burst through on the far side to claim victory by a length and a quarter.

Long House Hall, ridden by Harry Skelton for his brother Dan, was second, with Ubak another neck away in third,

The Mullins-Walsh combination Blood Cotil pulled up.

Veteran performer Any Currency (11-1) stuck on gamely to strike for trainer Martin Keighley and jockey Aidan Coleman in the Glenfarclas Chase.

Second in this race for the last two years, the 13-year-old took over from long-time leader Valadom in the final part of the cross-country test over three and three-quarter miles and was the clear leader from the third-last fence.

Josies Orders, the 15-8 favourite, finished with a flourish up the hill to get to within a length of the winner at the line.

Bless The Wings (33-1) was another length and a quarter away in third.

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