Un De Sceaux connections hoping for Sandown Celebration
Un De Sceaux renews rivalry with his Queen Mother Champion Chase conqueror Un De Sceaux in the bet365 Celebration Chase at Sandown on Saturday.
Having never previously suffered defeat when completing over jumps, the Irish challenger was a red-hot favourite for the two-mile Cheltenham showpiece, but had to make do with the runner-up spot.
Connections are happy the pressure is off their horse following his odds-on reverse at Prestbury Park.
"It's almost as good as the Champion Chase, yet he went from being bad value there to almost looking good value in this," said owner Colm O'Connell.
"We're happy to go and for once there's no pressure, that's all on Sprinter Sacre. It's nice to be the underdog. To be beaten by Sprinter Sacre, I was down but not for very long as he's one of the best chasers we've seen.
"Nicky Henderson kept saying he had him back and he didn't need to be right back to his best to win it. Eighty per cent would be good enough. But has it left a mark on him? It may have left a mark on us too, we don't know.
"When Sandown was mooted for us, we were very keen to go as the Champion Chase was a scrappy race for us. I think we teed it up a bit for Sprinter. If he beats us again then fair enough, but I think we warrant a rematch and the public deserve to see it.
"Racing has been starved of answers to big questions in the past and the public deserve to see what would happen between these two a second time, if we'd gone to Punchestown we wouldn't learn anything.
"If we come off second best again, then there's no doubt and I suppose against a horse like Sprinter you never can count your chickens. He took four lengths out of the field with one jump at Cheltenham, he's majestic. "
Nicky Henderson feels Sprinter Sacre is in such rude health he has little option but to let him take his chance in Saturday's bet365 Celebration Chase at Sandown.
The 10-year-old's resurgence has been one of the most heartwarming stories of the campaign and there was hardly a dry eye in the house when he regained his Queen Mother Champion Chase crown in breathtaking fashion at Cheltenham last month.
While that emotional success would appear the perfect way to end his campaign, Henderson has been so thrilled with his stable star since that run, he is happy to let him strut his stuff once more on the final day of the season.
"All is good and all is well. I've been looking for an excuse all week not to run him, but I can't find one I'm afraid," said the Seven Barrows handler.
"I'm delighted with him and while we obviously don't have to run him, he's telling us he wants to run, so we'll let him do just that. I'd be the first to pack him up for the season if I thought he'd had enough, but he seems in very good form."