2:21pm Tuesday 13th March 2012
© Press Association 2013
Sprinter Sacre turned in a scintillating performance to pummel his rivals in the Racing Post Arkle Chase at Cheltenham.
The Nicky Henderson-trained 8-11 favourite, barely off the bridle in his first three starts over fences, jumped to the front leaving the back straight and when Barry Geraghty gave the giant gelding his head he put daylight between himself and his rivals running down the hill.
Though Cue Card kept on well, Sprinter Sacre was dossing in front and he only had to be pushed out after another excellent leap at the last to come home with seven lengths in hand.
Al Ferof was sent off his main market rival having beaten Sprinter Sacre in last season's Supreme Novices' Hurdle, but he took off way too early at the ditch down the back straight and was never going to get back into it afterwards.
Geraghty said: "He's unbelievable, he has so much pace and scope - I'm not sure I've had the privilege to ride anything like that. Moscow Flyer would always doss and might just beat an average horse a couple of lengths. The way he jumped the third-last he gives you some feel. He knew what he was doing."
Henderson added: "We always hoped he might be a bit special. He was coming here to show off and he's done it. That's the way he loves to do it. He is very flashy and very showy. That jumping was quite unreal. He was always travelling and he's got up the hill.
"He's got so much speed and scope, he's just a dreadful show-off. That was really worth watching. There was no point in Barry stopping him, they gave him a good lead and went a nice pace. When he's jumping like that it's a joy. He looked a proper horse and he was just showing off."
Sprinter Sacre was presenting Henderson with his 40th Cheltenham Festival win, which means he has now equalled the record of Fulke Walwyn.
The trainer went on: "It's nice to get it out of the way on the first day. This was a horse we hoped might do it and he could really be special. You wait for something to come out of the woodwork and be a real champion and it just might be him."
Cue Card's trainer, Colin Tizzard, said: "I think we're all in awe of the front one really. Joe (Tizzard) said he got in his tail nearly on the bend, but then he went away again. It was a brilliant run by Cue Card, but we're up against it with that other one for sure. We'll have to step up in trip or we're going to run into this chap all the time."
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