JIMMY BEADLE: Sacre set for long-awaited return

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The highest-rated horse in modern day history, Sprinter Sacre, looks set to make his eagerly-awaited return in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday.

Absent since December 2013 when he was pulled up at Kempton with a fibrillating heart, “The Black Aeroplane”, as nicknamed by his admiring trainer Nicky Henderson, has undergone extensive treatment to galvanize him back to his mesmerising best.

Considered by many as unbeatable until he suffered from the irregular heartbeat when last seen, Sprinter Sacre is rated the third best National Hunt horse of all time, behind only Arkle and Flyingbolt.

With the Cheltenham Festival on the horizon, the racing nation is desperate to see the 2013 Champion Chase winner return to the track in rude health and after last month’s racecourse gallop in which he showed all the zest and panache of old, we could be in for a treat.

Henderson has warned that Sprinter Sacre may not race if the ground deteriorates to anything worse than soft, but with the ground currently good to soft and a dry day predicted on Friday, we should finally get to witness something special.

Tingle Creek winner Dodging Bullets and former Grade 1 winner Somersby are set to spearhead his rivals, but quite simply if Sprinter Sacre returns half the horse he was, then he should be able to carry the opposition across the line en route to a tilt at reclaiming his Queen Mother Champion Chase crown.

It could turn out to be a red letter day for the Henderson Yard on Saturday as he sends out Top Notch in the Skybet Supreme Trial Novices Hurdle to try and enhance his growing reputation since landing from France.

Despite shouldering a double penalty on his British debut at Newbury, he still comfortably dispatched a couple of decent yardsticks who were both well fancied that day.

He should really win this comfortably before going on to a have a good crack at either the Supreme Novice, Triumph Hurdle or Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival.

Beadle bets

Sprinter Sacre, Ascot, Saturday,15.00, 11-10.

Top Notch, Haydock, Saturday, 13.30, 11-10.