Sprinter Sacre was beaten into second in the Sodexo Clarence House Chase at Ascot but still pleased connections after over a year away with a heart scare.
Nicky Henderson’s chaser travelled with his usual fluency and drew gasps from the crowds with some of his leaps, but he had no answer to Tingle Creek winner Dodging Bullets.
Henderson, however, said: “He just got a little bit tired. They went a good gallop. It found him out at the end, but I’m pleased the way he travelled.”
Trained by Paul Nicholls, Dodging Bullets is one of the game’s most improved horses and had Sprinter Sacre’s measure by the final fence, going on to win by three lengths.
Sprinter Sacre, sent off the 4-6 favourite, won his first 10 starts over fences before he was pulled up at Kempton last December with a fibrillating heart. Henderson had agonised over whether to run him on soft ground at the Berkshire circuit.
However, he looked good when schooled at Newbury.
The New One also did not have things all his own way in the StanJames.com Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock.
Sent off at 1-6, he just wore down Bertimont to win after jumping right at several fences.
Bertimont jumped to the front at the third-last when The New One made a minor error. Jockey Sam Twiston-Davies did not panic and ground down his rival after the last to win by two and a quarter lengths.
The New One was eased by some bookmakers to around 3-1 for the main event in March.
Twiston-Davies said: “It’s not often you ride a winner and everyone looks so disappointed.
“It was heavy ground. I was in trouble from the bottom of the straight. I didn’t imagine it would be as hard as that. Everything went wrong and he still won.”Reuse content