sport

Sacre has irregular heartbeat

Nicky Henderson has confirmed Sprinter Sacre is suffering from an irregular heartbeat after veterinary examination.

The seven-year-old made his seasonal bow in Friday's Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton and all appeared to be going well for National Hunt racing's brightest star when he produced a long and flamboyant leap at the fifth.

However, just two fences later jockey Barry Geraghty suddenly applied the brakes and trotted back anti-clockwise around half a circuit before dismounting in front of Henderson and concerned connections.

Racecourse vets initially diagnosed an irregular heartbeat and that has now been confirmed by Celia Marr, a specialist in equine internal medicine and cardiology.

Henderson said: "Sprinter Sacre went to Newmarket first thing on Saturday morning following a night spent at home where he ate up and was perfectly sound.

"Following initial cardiac examination by Celia Marr, she has confirmed the diagnosis of the racecourse vets and he does have an irregular heartbeat, which is known as atrial fibrillation.

"What she would like to do is wait for a further 48 hours to see is this will stabilise on it's own. If not, medicines and technology will come into employment."

Denman is a recent case of a top National Hunt horse recovering from a similar problem.

The 2008 Gold Cup hero had an operation to correct a problem that September and although he was beaten on his racecourse return the following February, he was capable of finishing second to Kauto Star back at Cheltenham and winning the Hennessy a few months later.

Henderson said: "This is apparently virtually identical to the situation that Denman went through

"In her (Marr's) opinion the reason for these situations is that both horses are supreme athletes and they are more likely to suffer from these problems due to the size of their hearts, which in both cases are unusually large.

"Because of the muscle density around the heart, it can cause this situation."

Henderson is away from his Seven Barrows base at present, supervising the run of Bobs Worth in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown, but plans to elaborate on the situation on Sunday.

"As I'm at Leopardstown today, I felt it best to give a short prognosis and as I'm at home all day tomorrow, I'll be able to expand on it then," he said.

"The horse is perfectly fine in himself though."