Cheltenham 2016: Sprinter Sacre wins Queen Mother Champion Chase

Sprinter Sacre with jockey Nico de Boinville
Sprinter Sacre has won 16 of his 22 runs
Cheltenham Festival 2016
Dates: 15-18 March Big races: Thu - World Hurdle, Fri - Gold Cup (both at 15:30 GMT)
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra
Key info: Race schedule and results

Sprinter Sacre beat favourite Un De Sceaux to win the coveted Queen Mother Champion Chase for a second time at the Cheltenham Festival.

With three former winners in the big race, Nicky Henderson's 10-year-old 5-1 shot, ridden by Nico de Boinville, powered home by seven lengths.

Ruby Walsh, seeking his 50th Festival winner, was second on the Willie Mullins-trained 4-6 favourite.

Outsider Special Tiara (16-1) was third for trainer Henry de Bromhead.

Sprinter Sacre was a dominant winner by 19 lengths three years ago but did not race in 2014 after an irregular heartbeat was detected.

Following two second-place finishes last year, he won by 14 lengths at Cheltenham in November and then added the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton the following month when he eclipsed Sire De Grugy.

Another former winner, the Gary Moore-trained 10-year-old Sire De Grugy was eighth this time.

"It's been a long, long journey - those were two very, very grim years," Sprinter Sacre's trainer Henderson said.

"That was unbelievable. That was about dreams, wasn't it?"

Analysis

BBC racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght:

"Nicky Henderson has long proved what a brilliant handler he is of the more delicate of horses, whatever their ailment. Way back in his early training days in the 1980s, he guided the fragile See You Then to three Champion Hurdle victories, while this week, despite two years off the track, My Tent Or Yours ran a screamer to be runner-up to Annie Power.

"But Sprinter Sacre is something else. A dramatic fall from grace with heart problems after such a brilliant 2013 seemed terminal, but Henderson never gave up, kept nursing and keeping faith and that was today repaid in bucket-loads."

Winning combination continues

Walsh and Mullins had continued their remarkable start to the Festival with victory in the opening race on day two.

Having secured three wins on the opening day, Walsh rode the Mullins-trained six-year-old Yorkhill to another in the Novices' Hurdle.

Jockey Ruby Walsh clears a fence aboard Yorkhill
Ruby Walsh and Yorkhill en route to victory in the Novices' Hurdle

Walsh, who rode the Mullins-trained Annie Power to victory in day one's feature - the Champion Hurdle - steered Yorkhill on an inside path and turned for home to beat favourite Yanworth by a length and three-quarters.

Its'afreebee stuck on pluckily for third, seven lengths further back.

Blaklion wins RSA Chase

Walsh was in contention again on Roi Des Francs in the RSA Chase but eventually faded to sixth as the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Blaklion, (8-1) ridden by 22-year-old Ryan Hatch, prevailed in a gripping tussle with Shaneshill to win by half a length.

Favourite More Of That, ridden by Barry Geraghty, was third, another eight lengths in arrears.

Diamond King shines in Coral Cup

Gordon Elliott's eight-year-old Diamond King, (12-1) with Davy Russell on board, burst through on the far side to claim victory by a length and a quarter.

Long House Hall, ridden by Harry Skelton for his brother Dan, was second, with Ubak another neck away in third,

The Mullins-Walsh combination Blood Cotil pulled up.

Third time lucky for Any Currency

Veteran performer Any Currency (11-1) stuck on gamely to strike for trainer Martin Keighley and jockey Aidan Coleman in the Glenfarclas Chase.

Second in this race for the last two years, the 13-year-old took over from long-time leader Valadom in the final part of the cross-country test over three and three-quarter miles and was the clear leader from the third-last fence.

Josies Orders, the 15-8 favourite, finished with a flourish up the hill to get to within a length of the winner at the line.

Bless The Wings (33-1) was another length and a quarter away in third.

Double delight for Nicholls

Trainer Paul Nicholls tasted success for the first time at this year's Festival when Diego Du Charmil (13-2) and Romain De Senam gave him a one-two in the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

At the final flight Voix De Reve and Campeador fell independently when well placed.

That left Diego Du Charmil in front from long-time leader Coo Star Sivola, but he had to be driven out by Sam Twiston-Davies to thwart a late challenge from stablemate Romain De Senam (20-1) by a head.

Coo Star Sivola was a head away third.

Twiston-Davies double

Ballyandy inched home by a nose in the final race of the day, the Champion Bumper, to give both trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and his jockey son Sam doubles.

In a gritty 23-runner race, Ballyandy (5-1) got the verdict from the Mullins-trained Battleford (25-1).

Mullins and Walsh were third with Bacardys (16-1).