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Celebrations swiftly halted at Cheltenham after Simonsig has fatal fall

By Graham Clark

Published 14/11/2016

Trainer Nicky Henderson: “It (Sprinter Sacre’s retirement) was not a funeral, but a celebration of life, but now we’ve got the funeral and the tears all of a sudden go the other way.
Trainer Nicky Henderson: “It (Sprinter Sacre’s retirement) was not a funeral, but a celebration of life, but now we’ve got the funeral and the tears all of a sudden go the other way."

Nicky Henderson has enjoyed many great times at Cheltenham but rarely will he, and his team, have gone through so much emotion as yesterday.

Just minutes after an adoring public celebrated the retirement of star chaser Sprinter Sacre, who paraded in the paddock and in front of the stands, stablemate Simonsig lost his life.

That came in the Shloer Chase when the dual festival-winning grey suffered a fatal fall in a race won by Sprinter Sacre 12 months earlier.

Henderson said: "It (Sprinter Sacre's retirement) was not a funeral, but a celebration of life, but now we've got the funeral and the tears all of a sudden go the other way. It is not fair for the team more than anything."

Honours in the Shloer Chase went to Fox Norton (5-2) on his first start since joining trainer Colin Tizzard from Neil Mulholland.

Ridden by Aidan Coleman, the six-year-old stormed home by nine lengths from Special Tiara.

North Hill Harvey (6-1) overcame a 219-day absence when he fended off a strong cast in the stanjames.com Greatwood Handicap Hurdle for brothers Dan and Harry Skelton.

The former, who trains the five-year-old, said: "I'll probably look at coming back here in December for the International.

"We'll be adventurous this year and go down the Champion Hurdle trial route, and things like that, but the Champion Hurdle is probably way at the back of our consideration as he's a chaser in the making."

David Pipe will give Moon Racer (9-4) an entry in the Champion Hurdle after he convincingly upheld form with Ballyandy in the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle.

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