High hopes for Sprinter Sacre following Kempton heart scare

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Nicky Henderson is steadily stepping Sprinter Sacre back up in work following the brilliant chaser’s heart scare last month.

National Hunt racing’s brightest star suffered his first defeat over fences when pulled up sharply by Barry Geraghty in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on December 27, after which he was found to be suffering from an irregular heartbeat.

After being examined by Celia Marr, a specialist in equine internal medicine and cardiology at Newmarket, Sprinter Sacre’s heart “righted itself” and he was monitored closely as he did his first canter a week later.

His work has been gradually stepped up and Henderson reports last season’s superb Queen Mother Champion Chase winner to be looking “magnificent”.

“Sprinter Sacre’s great, Nico’s (De Boinville, his regular work-rider) happy with him, but he’s not doing anything quick at the moment. We’re just building him up,” said the champion jumps trainer.

“There’s nothing new except he looks magnificent, is moving well and is feeding well. We’ll just leave it at that for the time being.

“There’s no great big tests or gallops or anything coming up in the foreseeable future but there will be nearer the time.”

The trainer also said that the JP McManus-owned My Tent Or Yours is to have a prep run for the Stan James Champion Hurdle at either Wincanton or Sandown.

Henderson is keen to give the Fighting Fifth and Christmas Hurdle winner another outing at Sandown on February 1 or at Wincanton two weeks later.

“My Tent is very fresh and will need a run. You’d probably look at Wincanton, although it depends on the ground and there’s Sandown as well,” he said.

The Seven Barrows trainer has also entered Grandouet and Rolling Star as he looks for a record sixth Champion triumph on March 11.

“Rolling Star will come back here next week for the Betfair Hurdle, and we put Grandouet in there but the Arkle is his target. He’ll probably run at Doncaster on Saturday week,” he said.

The 18 runners are headed by reigning champion Hurricane Fly who will be bidding to become the sixth three-time winner of hurdling’s premier event and the first since Istabraq.

A formidably strong Irish challenge also includes rising stars Jezki and Our Conor.

The Paul Nicholls-trained pair of Unioniste and The Minack head the weights for the £75,000 Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster on January 25.

Nicholls is also responsible for improving novice Sam Winner, the 12-1 ante-post favourite, course scorer Harry The Viking who is part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, French import Mon Parrain and Pacha Du Polder.

If the ground is not too testing, Sue Smith’s Grand National winner Auroras Encore could line up on Town Moor – though the 12-year-old veteran will have to carry 11st 5lb.

Frankel’s first foal has been born to Group Three-winning mare Chrysanthemum.

The six-year-old daughter of Danehill Dancer gave birth to a bay colt at Coolmore Stud in Ireland on Saturday.

The stud reported that the foal is “a handsome colt with a good head, a white blaze and great presence”.

Bookmakers have been swift to price up markets on Frankel’s offspring, with Betfred quoting the first foal at 5-2 to emulate his sire and win on his racecourse debut.

The colt is 33-1 to win the 2016 Dewhurst Stakes, 40-1 to land the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in 2017 and 66-1 to lift the Derby. Betfred spokesman Andrew Griffiths said: “Frankel’s first-born has huge shoes to fill, but we don’t think he will be a late bloomer with a debut win just 5-2.”