Sprinter's Irish journey far more than a lap of honour

They have somehow managed to coax the trainers of four other horses to turn it into something that might vaguely be presented as a race, but nobody is under any illusions. For the appearance of Sprinter Sacre on its opening day essentially serves as a ceremonial seal on what was already being billed, after unprecedented Irish success at Cheltenham last month, as the best Punchestown Festival yet.

The notion that his unbeaten record in chases might be in the slightest danger is confined to that last kernel of uncertainty which must subsist so long as any thoroughbred is invited to gallop for two miles through the mud and find his way across a dozen birch fences. Otherwise the Boylesports Champion Chase should prove as close to a lap of honour as might be encountered in a sport defined by its unpredictability.

Nicky Henderson will not be looking at it that way, naturally. The man who this week seals his third trainers' championship, and his first since 1987, can only really savour the privilege of supervising this glorious champion when he has welcomed a grinning Barry Geraghty back to the winner's enclosure. Even an assignment like this, on the face of it far more straightforward than the one Sprinter Sacre breezed through at Aintree earlier this month, takes Henderson through a spectrum of dread.

"You have to be mindful of horses at this time of year," Henderson admitted yesterday. "He's been to Cheltenham, he's been to Aintree. It's quite easy to say he's not getting terribly hard races, but those Festivals take quite a bit out of horses, whatever happens. But we've always said we'd like to take him over there."

In being prepared to have another go with Sizing Europe, the veteran treated with such startling disdain in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Henry De Bromhead may simply be reciprocating with a sporting gesture of his own. But Sizing Europe won this race in awful conditions last year, and can be relied upon to exploit any sudden chink in the hot favourite's armour. "It's the old cliché," De Bromhead said. "You should never be afraid of the one horse, as anything can happen."

Turf account

CHRIS McGRATH'S NAP: No Truth (3.20 Wolverhampton)

Very well-bred filly who found due improvement stepped up to this trip round here to win her maiden.

NEXT BEST: Maisie's Moon (5.35 Wolverhampton)

WHERE THE MONEY'S GOING: Ocovango is 12-1 from 16-1 with Ladbrokes for the Investec Derby.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam