14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Henderson plots route to ChampionHeadlines

Nicky Henderson has been left with a puzzle as to where he sends his trio of Champion Hurdle challengers for their Cheltenham prep runs.

The Seven Barrows handler has leading contenders in Darlan, Grandouet and Binocular as well as a possible fourth in Oscar Whisky.

"Grandouet is a very classy horse, but it all went wrong last year, literally just a week before the Champion Hurdle," he told Channel 4's new racing team, headed by Clare Balding.

"He had an infection in a hind joint and it ruled him out of Cheltenham and the rest of the season. That was a good comeback at Cheltenham the other day. He must be sharper for it.

"One would like to give him another run. There are alternatives. Somebody can go to Ireland for the Irish Champion Hurdle, there's the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown, the Kingwell at Wincanton and there's a rather good race, the Morebattle at Kelso, that we won last year with Simonsig.

"Those are really the only four options for them, so between them we are going to spread them around and hopefully get it right."

Darlan, impressive winner of the Christmas Hurdle and Binocular, the Champion Hurdle hero of 2010, are both owned by JP McManus.

"Binocular is a little bit behind. He came in a little bit later than the others," said Henderson.

"The Champion Hurdle was a funny race last year. He missed the last and finished fourth. He had a good summer out and looks magnificent. He's in really good form. It's just a matter of where we start him now.

"It's finding the prep races for them. It's lovely having a team like this, but it's where they go and we do have to spread them out. There aren't that many opportunities."

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