Sprinter shines at Cheltenham again
(Healy Racing Photos)
Nicky Henderson's hugely exciting chaser was sent off at the prohibitive price of 1/5 and those who took the odds never had a moment's worry as he made it seven from seven over fences.
Mad Moose was kicked into an early advantage of around 20 lengths, with Sanctuaire anchored in rear, but the favourite had smoothly closed the gap as the field went out into the country.
Jumping well throughout the Queen Mother Champion Chase favourite freewheeled down the hill to open up a lead of around eight lengths with two to jump.
Barry Geraghty was keen to hold onto him, however, and the field, led by Somersby, were only about five lengths adrift at the second last but the favourite was foot-perfect at those two obstacles.
Geraghty let out an inch of rein having jumped the last and he fairly sprinted clear, still on the bridle, to score by 14 lengths from the rallying Mad Moose.
Geraghty said: "He's so natural, he's one of the most natural I've ridden. I was afraid of the ground and didn't think it would suit him as well. He was very relaxed today, he jumped brilliant and I never had a moment's concern. He was very good.
"He coped with that (heavy) ground so well. I've not sat on him since the Tingle creek and when I got up on him in the parade ring I remembered why I love him so much. He's just unbelievable to get on.
"It's so easy for him, he travelled so easy, he jumped so well. He's all class."
Sprinter Sacre is now 2/7 with Sky Bet for glory at Cheltenham in March.
It wasn't the spectacle anyone wanted to see but that'll matter not one whit to backers and connections of Benefficient as he landed a second Grade 1 victory by taking the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown.