Sprinter Sacre is compared to Pele, Kauto Star and Arkle
The tributes flood in after the gelding demolishes the field at the Cheltenham festival
SPRINTER SACRE was the toast of Cheltenham yesterday after powering to glory in the day's big race, the Queen Mother Champion Chase. After a "crushing" 19-length victory his jockey, Barry Geraghty, even likened the horse to Pele.
The gelding started the race at 1-4, making him the shortest priced favourite at this year's festival, and after his remarkable run Sprinter Sacre has already been installed as the 2-5 favourite for next year's race. The British Horseracing Authority has now raised his handicap rating to 188, just 2lb behind the famous Kauto Star.
"He has such power and scope and that gives him the time he needs," said Geraghty afterwards. "He's like a top footballer, like Pele on the ball, who used to do it all easily because his speed and power and skill gave him the time to do it."
He also described him as close to "equine perfection".
Geraghty wasn't the only one to lavish praise on his ride. The horse has "established himself as one of the finest steeplechasers of recent decades," said The Guardian.
The performance was "mind-boggling" announced the Daily Telegraph. "Hype in racing is dangerous, particularly when those in charge of promoting the sport are so desperate to find a peg on which to hang things. Frankel was real on the flat, Kauto Star and Denman were real over jumps, and now there is Sprinter Sacre for us all to enjoy."
The paper was not alone in invoking the names of previous greats. BBC racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght namechecked Kauto Star, Desert Orchid, Red Rum and Arkle. "Everyone, not just close-up fans and purists, needs to know news of such flamboyant brilliance: let's shout it from the proverbial rooftops," he said.
And Alan Lee of The Times added his voice to the chorus."This catwalk racehorse poses and preens to order but there is rare substance behind the swagger," he wrote. "Box-office stars like this cannot be created, even by the most original marketing."
- Today's most napped horse, according to the Racing Post, is Martin Pipe's Dynaste (6-4) in the 1.30, while Telegraph tipster Hotspur goes for Cantlow (7-1) in the 4.00.