• Horse racing

Sprinter Sacre ruled out of Cheltenham

ESPN staff
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Nicky Henderson revealed Sprinter Sacre was missing that '10%' © PA Photos
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Sprinter Sacre has been ruled out of next month's Cheltenham Festival and will not be defending his Queen Mother Champion Chase crown.

The eight-year-old was pulled up at Kempton in December after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat.

But after running on Saturday, the decision was taken to withdraw him from the Cheltenham Festival.

"He worked [on Saturday] as normal, but I just needed to see the old Sprinter back yesterday. Everything had been going very well, his work was building up. It had been okay, but I was looking for that something he shows, he is extraordinary and always used to give us that at home," trainer Nicky Henderson told PA Sport.

"I talked extensively with [owners] Caroline and Raymond Mould, who have been very understanding. I said the other week it was 50-50 [getting to Cheltenham] but quietly I thought it was above that, I honestly thought we were going the right way. It's just not all there and I can't ask a horse of his standing, I can't sacrifice him, I think it is fairer to everybody - the horse told us what he wanted to tell us yesterday. It's not what he's made of."

And speaking to BBC Sport, Henderson added: "Sprinter is a horse that you go woa, woa, woa with, not go, go, go.

"We know this horse backwards and he is missing that 10%, which might be good enough to still win, but he's such a special horse, such a public horse, that Caroline - who's been very understanding - and me and everyone have decided to miss Cheltenham this time."

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