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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."

28 February 2015

Vautour excites Mullins in workout
Festival plans fluid for Cyclone
Elliott posse work at Leopardstown
Geraghty confirmed for Master
Wayward back on right track
Investment gains Greatwood gold
Bal win delights connections
Glinger burns off Kelso rivals
Pipe proves he's a Soll man
Geraghty shines on Leave It
Walter back for another victory
Irish pair do battle in France
Geraghty: Sprinter will be fitter
Wylie lines up Cheltenham team
Twiston-Davies Blak in business
Divine Bishop on Festival trail
Irish duo set Doncaster poser
Night riding high for Grimthorpe
Glingerburn facing another battle
Pipe targets Aintree with veterans
Carlito primed for Kelso return
McCoy not planning Festival goodbye
Bridge camp praying for rain
Cook suspended from riding

27 February 2015

Golantilla in Ballsbridge bid
Safety strikes in Zabeel Mile
Fehily confirms Zarkandar mount
Lieutenant bosses Purcell rivals
Dettori delights on Dubday
Many Clouds goes back to school
Maguire loses appeal
New One at ease for Faugheen clash
Foxrock still in Gold Cup picture
Apache ready to take flight in JLT

26 February 2015

Higgins back in business
Cookie poised for April return
Silvi threat unsettles Riches camp
No going concerns at Cheltenham
Fry resigned to Fehily Ruby loss
Trip key to Balder success - King
McLernon gets nod for Holywell
Salsify leads Foxhunter field
Mullins unveils Bumper entry
Curtis hoping for Cross revival
Aurore misses Mares' date

25 February 2015

Ton-up for in-form Pipe
Big display from George veteran
Credit to join the Premier league
Jack to duck Grimthorpe date
Tea preparing for National tilt
Geraghty rates Whisper World claims
George retains Module faith
Uramazin ready to go again
Coney team wait on Festival call
Aintree on Ceremony agenda
Silvi is all Gold - Nicholls
Bright Clouds gets serious
Puffin swoops at Leicester
Nicholls: Rheu call tough for Sam
Nicholls suffers Hinterland blow
Own on Cheltenham trail
BHA issues new anti-doping rules
Walsh hoping for a Champagne moment
That ruled out of World bid

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