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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Henderson at the double at AscotHeadlines
Close Touch

Nicky Henderson was expected to have a profitable afternoon at Ascot and he duly landed a double, starting with the rejuvenated Minella Class in the David & Toni Eyles Beginners' Chase.

The classy hurdler had made a faltering start to his career over fences last season and treated the Berkshire track's obstacles with plenty of respect until warming to his task in the home straight.

A prodigious leap at the last saw Barry Geraghty and the 7-4 favourite sail two and a quarter lengths clear of Theatrical Star.

"It's hard work out there and he was a bit careful, but he had a bad fall last season at Newbury and used to be a bit over-ambitious," said Henderson.

"He's had problems with his wind and this was good experience. I won't step him up too much yet."

Henderson followed up with a winner for the Queen in the Felix Rosenstiel's Widow & Son Introductory Hurdle.

The unbeaten Close Touch (7-4 favourite), had been taken as far afield as Market Rasen and Fakenham for his previous two victories, in a bumper and a hurdle, but he and the rest of the field spotted Loyaute a lead of almost 30 lengths which lasted until the second-last flight.

Close Touch took over and eventually mastered Fair Trade by two and a half lengths, with Lordofthehouse paying the penalty for another of his now customary slow starts back in fourth.

"These introductory races are great for a horse like this, you just have a 5lb penalty for winning and it's a nice place for the Queen to have a winner," said Henderson.

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