Sprinter Sacre battles back from fibrillating heart to defy the odds and make Cheltenham Festival history

Sprinter Sacre on his way to an historic victory at Cheltenham. Credit: PA

Sprinter Sacre created one of the most stunning narratives in the history of the Cheltenham Festival when he regained his crown in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Invincible when imperious in this race three years ago, the one they used to call the 'black aeroplane' has had a succession of well-documented problems, the most serious of which was a fibrillating heart which kept him out of action for over a year.

But to the joy of thousands and to the absolute credit of his connections, trainer Nicky Henderson has, almost miraculously, brought him back to be the top two-miler again.

Henderson said: "It's been a long, long journey - those were two very, very grim years.

"That was unbelievable. That was about dreams, wasn't it?"

Sprinter Sacre (5-1) surged past a tame Un De Sceaux two out and pulled clear under Nico de Boinville to bring a packed house down at Prestbury Park.

Un De Sceaux, the 4-6 favourite, was still second best, beaten three and a half lengths behind the popular winner after being unable to dominate in his usual manner.

The pace had been set by Special Tiara (16-1), who was just a nose behind Un De Sceaux in third.

De Boinville said: "I'm speechless about that, it means so much to us.

"For him to come back like that - all credit to the guv'nor, we had a couple of desperate years with him and nearly retried him.

"I knew I had to get upsides Un De Sceaux and see what he was made of.

"It's incredible and I'm flabbergasted."

De Boinville said: "It's incredible and I'm flabbergasted." Credit: PA

When asked how this victory compared to Coneygree winning the Gold Cup 12 months ago, the jockey said: "It has to be on a par."

Henderson added: "Dreams do actually happen and come alive.

"It's nice to have everybody on your side. I knew we had some supporters and it's fantastic.

"He has been a spectacular horse, but to come back and do that after all that time - everyone has done a fantastic job.

"There were some hard days, but it was certainly worth the effort.

"I said if he and Tent (My Tent Or Yours, second in Champion Hurdle) both won I'd retire, luckily Tent got beaten!

"He (Sprinter Sacre) has been a very special horse. For those two golden years he was unbeatable.

"I said he couldn't come back to his best, but maybe he has.

"He had to be as good as he ever was to do that."