Updated: Saturday, 28 December 2013 04:19 | By Agence France-Presse

Sprinter Sacre suffers heart scare on seasonal bow

Sprinter Sacre, the brilliant chaser who won last season's Champion Chase, suffered a heart scare on his seasonal debut at Kempton on Friday which has cast uncertainty over his racing future.

Sprinter Sacre suffers heart scare on seasonal bow

Sprinter Sacre ridden by Barry Geraghty on its way to winning the Melling Steeple Chase on April 5, 2013

Trained by Nicky Henderson Sprinter Sacre was long odds on to maintain his unbeaten record in the Grade Two Desert Orchid Chase but he only made it as far as the seventh fence.

Jockey Barry Geraghty reported: "He felt fine during the race., but all of a sudden he went from going to not going so I pulled him up straight away."

Henderson said afterwards that Sprinter Sacre had been found by the racecourse vet to have suffered an irregular heartbeat which restricts blood flow.

Sprinter Sacre will now undergo heart tests to determine the extent of the problem, although Henderson was remaining positive.

"These things according to our advisors here can easily self-right quite quickly, although we'll still obviously go through the ECG route anyway and do further tests if necessary."

He added: "All credit to Barry. He was rolling along on his best horse and everything was going great, and then he realised in the flick of a finger that something was wrong.

"Fair credit to him for pulling up immediately. The sooner you stop, the less damage you're going to do. We're into a situation that we've got to undo, and therefore we'll go to all the experts and get all the advice."

Bookmakers have suspended betting on the Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March for which Sprinter Sacre was quoted at around 1-3 to retain his title.

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