I've tried hard to resist responding to the numerous theories on Sprinter Sacre, some which have been reasonable, some made out of spite ( plenty seem to hate Henderson) and some quite frankly full of more holes than a gigantic sieve .
This is my take. If it had been any other horse apart from Sprinter Sacre running to a mark of 168 after a year off, on ground that was softer than ideal, everybody would be eulogising. Instead, it has produced phrases of ' he's gone' amongst others that are bordering on strange to the insane.
Whilst accepting free speech I take on board what James Knight, the odds compiler for Corals, once said to me, namely that he didn't respect somebody else's opinion if he didn't agree with it.
Let's look at the facts, I concede ( which the Racing Post's Paul Kealy - whose opinion is one that I respect - corrected me on) that he was some way below his brilliant best with his second to Dodging Bullets.
His best ever, on my ratings, was his 186 when winning at Liverpool (2m4f) and his best over 2m I have as 185 in his last Champion Chase victory.
However, this is far from a vintage year. Dodging Bullets produced his best ever performance at Ascot yet Sprinter Sacre was running all over him until getting tired, as highlighted by his final furlong sectional compared to the previous one.
Plenty have suggested that Sprinter Sacre was fit enough to win at Ascot. I would be amazed if the horse was 100 % racefit. It would have been folly to push him that hard to win his comeback race. It would make no sense.
As for blood on the nose, as much as you would prefer not to see it, there could be a variety of reasons rather than a burst blood vessel.
Indeed, Shantou Bob, found to have blood in his nose when beaten at odds on at Warwick, subsequently scoped clean and now appears to have a wind problem.
Sprinter Sacre may well not produce the figures of yesteryear. The simple fact is that he doesn't need to. There is no depth to this year's renewal.
Sprinter Sacre was beaten an eased- down 3 lengths by a very good horse in racefit Dodging Bullets. It would be a surprise, however, if he were not to turn the tables.
Champagne Fever - never run higher than 161- has at least 8lbs to find with Sprinter Sacre on just his Ascot run, even without the expected improvenent from Henderson's star.
The fact that Mullins' grey has tried 3 miles and 2m4f on his last two starts suggests the Champion Chase hasnt been at the forefront of his trainers' mind. Not the way to win a Grade 1 chase.
Many have dissed the 3-1 ante post price for Sprinter Sacre. Value seekers have gone elsewhere. For me, 3-1 is VALUE.
He is the best horse in the the race and if he runs to mark of 176 - admittedly some 10lbs below his brilliant best - he will still be good enough.
Just imagine if the cobwebs have been blown away and the Pistons finely turned come March. All those that have stated 'I hope I'm wrong' when dismissing his chance, will have a chance to complete that statement.