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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Nicky Henderson with Sprinter Sacre

Nicky Henderson might publicly admit he does not expect to match last year's phenomenal haul of seven Cheltenham Festival winners, but a team of at least 35 from his Lambourn stable will be out doing their best.

These include virtually all of his returning heroes, such as Sprinter Sacre, Bobs Worth, Simonsig and Riverside Theatre as well as a former Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup winner in Long Run, which explains why Henderson is long odds-on to be top trainer when the meeting begins in three weeks' time.

"What happened last year is unrepeatable. Maybe Paul (Nicholls) or Willie Mullins will have seven, but it has happened once to us, so it won't happen again," said the Festival's all-time leading trainer.

"You would settle for one - anything that comes your way is gratefully received. The best thing is if you can find one winner on the opening day. It doesn't make the horses run faster but it gives everyone confidence."

If betting is taken literally, that one winner will surely be Sprinter Sacre, who could be sent off the hottest favourite at the fixture since Arkle won the 1966 Gold Cup. Henderson, who had opened his stable for a media morning on Monday, became practically doe-eyed when asked to pose with the Sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase-bound gelding, who has hardly been tested in seven starts over fences.

Henderson said: "Simonsig and Sprinter Sacre are two of the best work horses I've ever seen. I think he (Sprinter Sacre) is as good looking a horse as you'll ever see. Bobs Worth is no oil painting, he's just a nice horse, but with Sprinter Sacre it's a different ball game. He has a lot of natural talent and it's just easy for him. We won't be complacent, but he loves doing it. If you enjoy what you are doing, you can do it well."

After managing a one-two in the race named after his father, the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase, the trainer named his five probable runners as Tanks For That, Anquetta, French Opera, Petit Robin and Kid Cassidy.

Oscar Whisky was confirmed, as owner Dai Walters had suggested, for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle after a much improved attempt at a longer distance when just beaten by Reve De Sivola in the Cleeve Hurdle.

The trainer went on: "Our main objective had been to win a third Aintree Hurdle but Big Buck's not being there has opened it up. That has invited us there, and we'll go."

Virtually all the team have competed their racing trials ahead of Cheltenham, one or two handicappers aside, but Saturday could see last-ditch Triumph auditions for Vasco Du Ronceray and Courtesy Call, with Henderson adding: "They are two who really need a run on better ground and could go for the Adonis at Kempton."

5 December 2016

Aidan O'Brien claims Flat prize at HRI Awards
Nick Alexander dominates Ayr action as Marlee Massie highlights treble
Newly-crowned champion Jim Crowley gallops away with jockey award
Fergal O'Brien sets sights on Sandown compensation for Alvarado
Gracious John stars in Lingfield treble for Egan
Ruby Walsh raises Ascot possibility for Un De Sceaux
Uttoxeter forced to check due to threat of frost
Taquin Du Seuil tops 19 contenders hunting Caviar Gold
James Moffatt hoping Highland Lodge effort will secure National date
Kim Bailey considers Cheltenham test for Charbel
Many Clouds Lexus bid under serious consideration from Oliver Sherwood
Smad Place lined up for Cotswold repeat by Alan King
The Last Samuri to tread a familiar path back to Aintree
Peter Maher takes double aim at Cross Country Chase
Ludlow frozen off
Oscar-winning performance delights Fergal O'Brien
Eddie Harty has long-term dreams for Coney Island after Drinmore glory
'Excellent' Josses Hill puts it all together in Peterborough Chase romp
Apple's Jade pips Vroum Vroum Mag in Hatton's Grace thriller
Prolific Airlie Beach bags Grade One glory in Royal Bond
Ar Mad in line to be supplemented for the King George at Kempton
Landofhopeandglory still unbeaten over hurdles after Fairyhouse battle
Ballyandy providing Nigel Twiston-Davies with campaign quandary
Yanworth enters International and Christmas reckoning

4 December 2016

Gordon Elliottt eyeing Leopardstown outing for Ucello Conti
Stuart Edmunds eyeing Ascot compensation for Wolf Of Windlesham
Ludlow call precautionary check
Kelso gets the go-ahead
As De Mee gives owner Dame Judi Dench a winner over the National fences
Un De Sceaux just betters Sire De Grugy in Tingle Creek epic
National hero Many Clouds back in business at Aintree
Kempton the next stop as Altior bandwagon gathers pace at Sandown
Vieux Lion Rouge denies Highland Lodge repeat success in Becher thriller
Cole Harden second on fencing debut as Its'afreebee comes out on top
Unbeaten Airlie Beach seeking Grade One gold in Royal Bond
Vroum Vroum Mag revved up for Hatton's Grace at Fairyhouse
Mouse Morris gives Alpha Des Obeaux a squeak in Fairyhouse Grade One

3 December 2016

Evening Hush makes big noise at Aintree
BHA withdraws disciplinary charges against Martin Harley
Festival winner Martello Tower off the mark over fences at Fairyhouse
Triumph Hurdle favourite Landofhopeandglory faces Fairyhouse test
More Of That on recovery mission in Peterborough Chase
Precautionary inspection for Kelso Sunday fixture
Waitaki gives Pat Smullen a winning send off at Dundalk
Classy Messire Des Obeaux fires for Alan King at Sandown
The New One set to take on International Hurdle assignment
Faugheen earmarked for Christmas comeback
Oliver Sherwood 'very happy' as National winner Many Clouds returns to Aintree
Noel Fehily bowled over by Sandown-bound Altior
National king Mouse Morris on Aintree reconnaissance mission with Rogue Angel
Vroum Vroum Mag leads Hatton's Grace team for Willie Mullins
Ground poser as Un De Sceaux takes Tingle Creek test at Sandown
Henry de Bromhead has John Durkan target for Sub Lieutenant

2 December 2016

Joseph O'Brien claims Dundalk success for Qatar Racing
More Buck's in the money at Sandown
Classy Messire Des Obeaux fires for Alan King at Sandown
Alan King rules at Sandown with Messire Des Obeaux
Exeter Friday card falls victim to frost
No problems for day one of Tingle Creek meeting at Sandown
Crafty Roberto back to winning ways at Market Rasen
Highland Lodge geared up for Becher repeat
Hilly Way beckons for Douvan as Un De Sceaux picks up Tingle Creek gauntlet
Arctic Skipper angling for Lexus honours at Leopardstown
Tully East makes perfect start as Bachasson falters at Thurles
'Big day' for The New One as chasing bow beckons at Exeter
Coeur Blimey makes hurdling debut at Sandown for Sue Gardner
Trevor Whelan withdraws appeal against Leicester suspension
Native River to have light campaign before Gold Cup

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