Flat Racing had Frankel, Australia has Black Caviar.
Jump Racing now has Sprinter Sacre.
Following in the footsteps of Kauto Star, Sprinter Sacre is jump racing's new king. Friday's Melling Chase at Aintree confirmed what many experts had been saying for over a year. That this horse is a once in a lifetime animal that we should all savour and enjoy while we have the chance.
The buzz around Sprinter started before the 2012 Cheltenham Festival. He was the red-hot favourite for the Arkle Trophy and was considered to be the banker of the entire meeting. The 8/11 chance absolutely demolished the field as effortlessly as he had done in his previous races. There was a real hope now regarding this horse. With great favourites like Kauto Star and Denman heading to retirement Sprinter Sacre carried the hopes of the entire Racing community of being the next Superstar.
Trainer Nicky Henderson was priming him for the 2013 Champion Chase at Cheltenham and after an impressive victory in the Tingle Creek Chase was the short priced favourite for the Grade 1 race at Cheltenham. He followed that up with another demolition of his rivals in the Victor Chandler Chase on 19th January and just like that he was the shortest priced favourite since the iconic Arkle won his third Gold Cup at odds of 1/10.
The anticipation before the Champion Chase was extraordinary. Sprinter was the 4/11 favourite and by the time raceday came along the hype surrounding the horse was incredible. He is a supreme specimen of a horse. Beautiful, black and has perfect definition. Nothing phases him and while he tends to get a little excited before the race it's all part of his mystique.
What happened next was something that few had ever seen before. Sprinter gave a jumping masterclass to completely overwhelm his rivals without jockey Barry Geraghtyever having to move a muscle. He beat the top-class Sizing Europe by a sensational 19 lengths on the bridle amid joyous scenes at the biggest Jump Festival in the World.
Eight wins out of eight. A star was born.
It would have been easy for trainer Henderson to put him away for the summer and concentrate on next years targets. Instead, he took the gamble to go to Aintree and put his prized possession up in distance from two miles to two and a half. This promised to be a much sterner test for Sprinter, with the RyanAir Chase winner Cue Card declared as well as the best chaser in Ireland Fleminstar. Many thought the powers of Racing's new Superstar would be tested to the limit.
Sprinter was his usual exuberant self before the start but nothing out of the ordinary. As the race began, Geraghty seemed content to let Cue Card and Fleminstar get on with it and set the pace. Sprinter jumped superbly and always had the leaders within his sights. As they turned down the back straight for the last time the pace noticeably increased as they looked to see if Sprinter could stay the full two and a half miles. Finian's Rainbow began to get into it but as they turned for home it was predictably Cue Card and Sprinter Sacre who were set for a toe-to-toe battle.
In-fact, it was anything but. Sprinter cruised up to Cue Card and in two superb jumps passed him with ease. Geraghty, again, didn't move a muscle as the 40,000 strong crowd looked on in awe as Sprinter eased up at the end and the winning margin of four and a half lengths. Sprinter Sacre answered the questions and then some. Make no mistake, Cue Card is a top class Horse who ran the race of his life in this Melling Chase. However, he was absolutely pummelled by the finest Chaser we have seen for generations.
Trainer Henderson was evidently relieved in the winners enclosure after the race and wouldn't dismiss the prospect of Sprinter stepping up again for a crack at the King George next Christmas if he continues to progress. He is such a fluent mover and exceptional jumper you wouldn't bet against him if that's the direction he did go in. Ideally though, his target will once again be the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next year and he is already as short as 1/4 for that race next March.
You won't be getting rich anytime soon backing Sprinter at those prices but he is unquestionably the buggest draw in British Racing now Flat horse Frankel has been retired to stud. He has captured the imagination of the public and crowds will be full to capacity wherever he races from now on. It is a thing of beauty watching him in full flow tackling fences as calmly as if he was schooling at home during training.
Will there be anyone to succeed in giving Sprinter a real test in the future? Simonsig, this years impressive Arkle winner, looks to have the best chance. He is a great jumper and has plenty of scope for improvement given another year of experience. However, it would have to be an unprecedented amount of improvement if he is to get anywhere near Sprinter. This is a once in a lifetime Horse that will one day be compared to the greats such as Arkle.
Racing now has a new Golden Boy without question. The best thing about jump racing is that the horses are kept in training longer so we can expect many more thrilling performances in years to come from this spectacular athlete.
And that, is the most exciting prospect of all.
Dean Jones: Follow me on Twitter @DeanJones_