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Sprinter Sacre created one of the most stunning narratives in the history of the Cheltenham Festival when he regained his crown in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Invincible when imperious in this race three years ago, the one they used to call the 'black aeroplane' has had a succession of well-documented problems, the most serious of which was a fibrillating heart which kept him out of action for over a year.
But to the joy of thousands and to the absolute credit of his connections, t rainer Nicky Henderson has, almost miraculously, brought him back to be the top two-miler again.
Henderson said: "It's been a long, long journey - t hose were two very, very grim years. That was unbelievable. That was about dreams, wasn't it?"
Sprinter Sacre (5-1) surged past a tame Un De Sceaux two out and pulled clear under Nico de Boinville to bring a packed house down at Prestbury Park.
Un De Sceaux, the 4-6 favourite, was still second best, beaten three and a half lengths behind the popular winner after being unable to dominate in his usual manner. The pace had been set by Special Tiara, who was just a nose behind Un De Sceaux in third.
De Boinville said: "I'm speechless about that, it means so much to us. For him to come back like that - all credit to the guv'nor, we had a couple of desperate years with him and nearly retried him.
"I knew I had to get upsides Un De Sceaux and see what he was made of. It's incredible and I'm flabbergasted."
When asked how this victory compared to Coneygree winning the Gold Cup 12 months ago, the jockey said: "It has to be on a par."
Henderson added: "Dreams do actually happen and come alive. It's nice to have everybody on your side. I knew we had some supporters and it's fantastic.
"He has been a spectacular horse, but to come back and do that after all that time - everyone has done a fantastic job. There were some hard days, but it was certainly worth the effort.
"I said if he and Tent (My Tent Or Yours, second in Champion Hurdle) both won I'd retire, luckily Tent got beaten!
"He (Sprinter Sacre) has been a very special horse. For those two golden years he was unbeatable. I said he couldn't come back to his best, but maybe he has. He had to be as good as he ever was to do that."
Willie Mullins, trainer of the vanquished favourite, was keen to praise connections of Sprinter Sacre.
He said: " My first thought is maybe the ground was quick enough, but we've been beaten by Sprinter Sacre and there's certainly no shame in that.
"It's an unbelievable training performance by Nicky Henderson and who says they don't come back? Just listen to the crowd. I would say that's a winner for racing.
"He (Un De Sceaux) was closing again at the line and ran right up to it, so he may have run his race. I imagine he'll go to Punchestown."
Special Tiara's trainer Henry de Bromhead said: "I'm delighted with him. It was an exceptional training performance by Nicky Henderson to get his horse back like that. I've got great admiration for horse and trainer. It's unbelievable how they've brought him back to put in a performance like that, he was awesome.
"Special Tiara was very good at Sandown last year (in Celebration Chase), so we'll certainly consider it. At the moment we'll get over this and digest everything, but we're delighted with our guy - he lost very little in defeat and fair play to connections of the winner."
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