Champion racehorse Sprinter Sacre paraded at Newbury on Saturday as part of his rehabilitation programme after he was diagnosed to have had a fibrillating heart on his last racecourse appearance.
Last year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase winner, Sprinter Sacre, was pulled up by his jockey Barry Geraghty in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton Park in December after which it was found that he had a fibrillating heart.
Veterinary research has established that this is a condition that can occur at any point in a horse’s life and career. Celia Marr, a specialist in equine internal medicine and cardiology, has been treating and monitoring Sprinter Sacre's progress since Kempton. She said: “The Levy Board has funded a long strand of research into better understanding of how the heart works, both in health and disease. Britain has always been very strong on equine cardiology research and we now know more about the heart of a horse. That’s down to Levy Board investment.”
Since 2000, including the £2m assigned to projects in 2014, British Racing via the Levy Board has invested over £25m in veterinary research and education.
Parading at Newbury was an important step in Sprinter Sacre’s rehabilitation and helped to re-introduce the champion gradually to the racecourse. Sprinter Sacre wore a heart monitor during the parade and the readings were fed back to Celia Marr.
Trainer Nicky Henderson told the Racing Post on Saturday: "We thought a while ago just to bring him to the racecourse and have a day out and go home as it can't have been a pleasant experience for him at Kempton. His heart shouldn't affect him - and it won't as far as we are concerned - and he has come here thinking he is going to race. Celia will get a read out to how he reacted to it."
Henderson is hopeful that Sprinter Scare will be able to defend his title at the Cheltenham Festival next month: "The Champion Chase is four weeks away on Wednesday and I would be very happy with where we are. We can get him there if all goes well. We'd be quite optimistic [of running].”
Sprinter Sacre paraded at Newbury with Denman. During his career, the former Gold Cup Champion also received treatment from Celia Marr for a fibrillating heart before returning to top form.
Ongoing research into horses’ cardiac activity is an important part of equine veterinary work and ensuring that heart conditions in horses are treated as efficiently and effectively as possible, and to the highest standard. Research funded by the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) into equine hearts revealed a positive correlation between the size of a horse’s heart and their performance on the racecourse.
For more information about research funded by the HBLB, please visit: http://racehorsehealth.hblb.org.uk/