Cheltenham Festival: Brilliant Sprinter Sacre one of best Festival winners of all time
Gloucestershire owner Caroline Mould revealed how she had endured sleepless nights before her brilliant racehorse Sprinter Sacre proved a nightmare to his rivals and himself one of the best Festival winners of all time.
He demolished his rivals in the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion in effortless style to extend his unbeaten run over fences to eight and earn a quote of only 2-5 to win the race again in 12 months time.
Mould, who lives in Wormington, near Cheltenham, said she could now finally start to relax after seeing Nicky Henderson's stable star dish out a hammering to former champion Sizing Europe.
"If it doesn't sound arrogant, last year when he won the Arkle at last year's Festival it was okay because we were pretty confident he'd win that and he wasn't really in the public eye, but this time it's been completely different," she said.
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"Sleepless nights, dry mouth, beating heart, grinding teeth, the lot. Everyone says I should enjoy him and moments like today, and I am, but I'm always relieved when it's all over and I can enjoy it properly."
Sprinter Sacre and jockey Barry Geraghty, who won the Champion Chase twice on Moscow Flyer, received a huge ovation from the crowd around the winner's enclosure following one of the easiest victories ever in a championship race at the Festival.
Always going well, Sprinter Sacre swept aside Sizing Europe – winner of the 2011 Champion Chase and runner-up last year – and pulled clear to score by 19 lengths.
Geraghty said: "I've never ridden a horse that does it all so easily. He has such power and scope and that gives him all the time he needs.
"He's like a top footballer, like Pele on the ball, who used to do it all easily because his power and skill gave him the time to do it.
"I'm not saying this lad is better than Moscow Flyer, but the ease with which he does everything sets him apart."
"He made a mistake at the ditch, the first he's ever made, but he knew what he was doing and it wasn't really a mistake.
Henderson, the leading trainer of all time at the Festival, admitted that like Mould he had found the build up to the race a nerve-shredding experience.
Hailing Sprinter Sacre as probably the best chaser he has ever trained, he said the gelding seemed to enjoy being jump racing's biggest box-office attraction.
"Now it's over we can sit back and enjoy it," he said. "He's a very special horse but today he had to do, hopefully, what everyone wanted him to do. It was a frightening performance, but he's that sort of horse.
"He enjoys it, Barry enjoys it and the rest of us have to sweat it out.
"There's an aura about him. It's as if he's saying, 'Look at me, watch me and I'll show you."