WATCH: Cheltenham Festival Memorable Moment – Number 4

08 Mar 2023
The year was 2016 and it was day two of the Cheltenham Festival. Un De Sceaux was all the rage to win the Champion Chase under Ruby Walsh – he went off the 4/6 favourite – but as you may or may not remember, things didn't quite go to plan.

This memorable moment was sent in by Daniel from Berkshire.

Sprinter Sacre regaining the title of Champion Chaser in 2016 is my favourite Cheltenham Festival memory.

Sprinter Sacre is the most gorgeous horse. He couldn't be more perfect. His power, scope and grace were breathtaking. Before Sprinter Sacre I never thought I'd see better than Master Minded, but Sprinter Sacre made Master Minded look like a handicapper.

More than this, Sprinter Sacre has the heart of champion. The biggest legends in sport aren't just those who make the most of their raw ability, but those that come back from adversity, those who refuse to give in when all others would quit, those who reclaim their glory when they'd been written off. 
That's what set Sprinter Sacre apart.
I was there at the home of Jumps racing that day. I go to Champion Chase Day every year. I remember I put my bet on Sprinter Sacre as soon as the previous race finished, more out of hope and blind faith that he could come back than anything else. I then took my position right on the rail with my friend Jason, about 40 yards after the last. We didn't move as we wanted to witness what could be an era-defining Cheltenham finish.

As the race got underway, Sprinter Sacre travelled with unerring ease, putting in fantastic jump after fantastic jump, just like he used to. As the field thinned out, Sprinter Sacre continued to travel well. Then, four out, Sprinter Sacre put in a spectacular leap, clearing the fence with daylight to spare. A jump only the very best and most exciting horses are capable of.

Down the hill, Un De Sceaux went to the front and the fairy tale ending seemed to be slipping away. But then, after the 3rd last, the Sprinter Sacre that blew everyone away before his heart problems, the Sprinter Sacre that made you believe you were witnessing greatness, burst through. A turn of foot off the home bend rarely seen took him clear. The crescendo of the crowd grew as what seemed impossible became reality.

Everyone at Cheltenham roared Sprinter Sacre up the hill that day. It wasn't about betting, it wasn't about Britain v Ireland, it was about sport fans witnessing their champion in his rightful place. Sprinter Sacre made clear why everyone who was there that day loves National Hunt racing. Sprinter Sacre's comeback showed why that race is called the Champion Chase.

That moment will always be my favourite moment on a racecourse, it reminded me why I first became enthralled with horse racing 35 years before.

A moment that will never be forgotten by anyone that was there.

Thank you, Daniel – from everyone at the Coral Racing Club – for sharing your incredible Cheltenham Festival moment with us.

Click here to watch: Cheltenham Festival Memorable Moment – Number 5
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