02/23/2014 3:39PM

Cheltenham: Sprinter Sacre dull in workout, will miss Queen Mother Champion Chase


Sprinter Sacre, the winner of nine consecutive steeplechases in England and Ireland until he was pulled up in his last start in December, will not start in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham, England, on March 12, trainer Nicky Henderson told the Racing Post on Sunday.

Henderson said Sprinter Sacre was dull in a workout Saturday.

“He’s not showing the same brilliance as last year,” he said.

Sprinter Sacre has won 14 of 17 starts but did not finish the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton Park in England on Dec. 27. Immediately after the race, he was found to have an irregular heartbeat. Subsequent tests revealed no long-term damage.

Sprinter Sacre resumed training earlier this year, but Henderson said he was not pleased with the workout and would point the 8-year-old French-bred gelding to the 2014-15 steeplechase season.

Owned by Carolyn Mould, Sprinter Sacre had been as short as 1-3 in the future book for the Champion Chase before the Desert Orchid Chase. In recent weeks, his future-book price had risen to 4-5.

Sire de Grugy, who won the Desert Orchid Chase, was made the 11-8 favorite with British bookmakers Sunday to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase.