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Two-time Champion Chase winner Sprinter Sacre retires

Sprinter Sacre

Sprinter Sacre

Sprinter Sacre has been retired, his trainer Nicky Henderson has announced.

The 10-year-old was one of the best two-mile chasers ever, winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in 2013 and in heart-warming scenes again last March.

After suffering from a fibrillating heart in December 2013, he was nursed back to his best by Henderson to rule to two-mile division once more.

Henderson tweeted: "It is with deep regret that I have to announce the sad news that Sprinter Sacre has been retired. He was the horse of an absolute lifetime."

The Seven Barrows handler said at a media conference at Cheltenham racecourse on Sunday that the decision to retire Sprinter Sacre was made after he developed leg injury earlier in the week.

Henderson added: "We're going to miss him. It has been a great journey and he's been a big part of our lives.

"It's been a pretty emotional time over the past five or six years and we've loved every moment of it, but all good things have to come to an end."

Sprinter Sacre will today parade before Shloer Chase, a race he brilliantly last year, at Cheltenham.

Sprinter Sacre won 18 of his 24 starts and amassed £1,136,000 in prize-money.

In between his two Champion Chase victories, however, he was plagued with problems before returning to something approaching his best last season.

Joining the Henderson stable from France, he made a winning debut in an Ascot bumper in February 2010 and went novice hurdling the following campaign.

After winning two of his first three starts, he was then third in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in March 2011.

It was a chaser he really made his mark, though.

He created a big impression in his novice season which saw him defeat Cue Card in the Arkle Trophy in 2012.

Sprinter Sacre went on to win his first 10 races over fences, including the Champion Chase at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival.

But his successful streak came to an abrupt halt when he was pulled up in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton that December, after which it transpired he had an irregular heartbeat.

He made a full recovery and returned to action in January 2015 when he was second to Dodging Bullets in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot.

But when he was pulled up in that season's Champion Chase it seemed his best days were behind him.

However, he came back in tremendous form last season and after wins in the Shloer Chase and the Desert Orchid Chase, Sprinter Sacre reclaimed his two-mile crown with a convincing defeat of Un De Sceaux at the Festival in March.

He wound up the campaign with a similarly authoritative victory in the Celebration Chase at Sandown in April in what turned out to be his swansong.

Explaining Sprinter Sacre's career-ending injury, Henderson said: "It all crept up yesterday. He worked on Tuesday and everything was grand.

"We were just a bit worried on Wednesday night as he was warm in one leg. I was going to work him yesterday but we couldn't work him.

"We can't ask him to come back, not at his age.

"He's in the same stable he has always spent his days in here (at Cheltenham) and you wouldn't know which leg I was talking about.

"In fact, if I was thinking about working this afternoon him I would.

"It (the injury) wouldn't hold up in the short term and when you can't go for the long term, you have to sadly bite the bullet."

Everton to make their move for Manchester United misfit

Depay has failed to make his mark at Man Utd

Depay has failed to make his mark at Man Utd

Everton manager Ronald Koeman has confirmed that he wants to sign Manchester United winger Memphis Depay in the January transfer window.

Koeman tried to sign Depay during his time as Southampton boss and with the Dutch winger not in Jose Mourinho’s first team plans at United, it seems that he will not have to move far to find an alternative Premier League club in 2017.

Koeman confirmed his interest in Depay during an appearance on Dutch TV, with his comments fuelling the rumours that talks have already begun between the clubs over a move for the 22-year-old.

“He’s a young player with individual qualities, threat and he’s efficient. I would like him in January,” stated Koeman.

“He is a good and interesting player. He’s shown that in his early days at Manchester United. More recently, though, it’s been less. He needs to play more games.”

Depay was a £25m signing for United in the summer of 2015, but he has struggled to make his mark under the guidance of managers Louis van Gaal and now Mourinho.

A move away from United now seems inevitable and Everton would appear to be a perfect club for him to have a second stab at Premier League success.

Ronald Koeman has his say on Roy Keane’s verbal attack

Koeman on McCarthy: "Last time he went with Ireland, he was not fully fit and he still played two matches in the space of a few days"

Koeman on McCarthy: "Last time he went with Ireland, he was not fully fit and he still played two matches in the space of a few days"

IT’S safe to assume Ronald Koeman and Roy Keane hold very different views on the art of leadership, but both seem to find common ground in Seamus Coleman’s version of captaincy

The poisonous/comical attack on Koeman served up by Keane over the fitness record of James McCarthy appeared more than a little trivial as Donald Trump stormed into the White House.

It may be that Keane appreciates the brash rudeness served up by America’s new Commander-In-Chief, as he has been following an equally distasteful line of public rhetoric for two decades now.

Yet Koeman is cut from very different and more refined cloth and he confirmed as much when he sat down with the Sunday World for an exclusive interview.

A legendary sportsman who arguably enjoyed an even greater career than that of Keane, Koeman did it all with a placid calmness that remains in place to this day.

So when we ask him to evaluate Coleman’s promotion to the role of Ireland captain in recent months, he suggested the quiet leader is more effective than the outspoken firebrand.

“Seamus can be a leader and in many ways, his personality is just what you need in a captain,” began Koeman, speaking at an event to promote the Kick It With Help anti-smoking campaign.  

“To be quiet off the pitch and loud on, with your leadership, it’s the perfect combination. You don’t want a leader who makes too much noise as this is not always good for the team.

“Maybe I was like this in my career and now we see something similar with Seamus.

“I know how amazing I felt to be captain of my national team and Seamus should be very proud that he has been given he honour to lead Ireland.

“First of all, Seamus is a great player and what I like most about him is that he is always willing to learn. Some players do not want to listen so much, but Seamus is not like this.

“He could become the best full-back in the Premier League, but there is a lot of competition for that title. 

“Full-back is such an important position in the game now because often, the most space in a Premier League game is in the wide positions and Seamus can give us so much when he goes forward.”

Amid this cordial chat, it seems a little unnecessary to bring up the Keano-sized green elephant in the room, but Koeman was eager to discuss the ongoing spat between the Ireland management team and Everton over McCarthy.

Koeman’s suggestion that Ireland were reckless by playing McCarthy in World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Moldova last month, shortly after his return from injury, sparked a feisty response from Ireland boss Martin O’Neill.

Predictably, Keane spewed up a Trump-style verbal attack when he was asked about Koeman’s comments and, just a couple of hours after those barbs were delivered, I was sitting before the man who was on the receiving end of those comments.

“I am a big fan of James McCarthy and believe in his qualities, but the problem for me at the moment is he is not fit to play,” said Koeman. 

“Last time he went with Ireland, he was not fully fit and he still played two matches in the space of a few days.

“That leads to a problem. Then he comes back to Everton and we can see what happens. 

“He was overloaded and still the player cannot train now, which is a problem for Everton and Ireland. Hopefully he can be back soon.”

When I offered up a slice of Keane’s latest attack on Koeman, and what he perceived to be Everton’s second-rate medical staff, it was clear that he had said more than enough on this toxic subject.

“Ah, these comments are not my problem, let’s move on,” he said, bringing a close to the feud. And so we did.

Ronald Koeman is backing the Kick It With Help campaign to highlight the importance of expert help in quitting smoking. Check out the website at: www.quitwithhelp.ie.

Report – Arsenal and Liverpool eye up Man United defenders

Arsene Wenger has long been a fan of Chris Smalling

Arsene Wenger has long been a fan of Chris Smalling

It is being reported in the UK press today that two Manchester United defenders who have recently fallen foul of Jose Mourinho are being looked at by two of the Red Devils most hated rivals.

The Sunday Mirror reports that Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw, who were both blasted by the Special One after a recent game they both missed through injury, are being lined up for possible Old Trafford escapes by both Arsenal and Liverpool.

The paper reports that both players were  unhappy about the public manner in which Mourinho disparaged them after Manchester United's win over Swansea.

“Chris Smalling doesn’t feel he can play 100 per cent with his pain and Luke Shaw this morning told me he was not in condition to play,” stated Mourinho last week after the win.

“There is a difference between the brave, who want to be there at any cost, and the ones for whom a little pain can make a difference.

“Of course, it is not just the players, it is the players and the people that surround the players.”

The Mirror suggests that Arsenal, long-term admirers of Smalling, may make a bid for the defender if he decides to leave Old Trafford.

And with Liverpool in the hunt for a left back, they also suggest Jurgen Klopp would like to add Shaw to his squad.

However, with the history of players moving from United to Liverpool non-existent in modern times, it seems highly unlikely Mourinho would sanction the sale to their bitter rivals.

 

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