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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."

24 February 2017

Tom George strives for more Kempton glory with Double Shuffle
Martin Dwyer keen to ride at Aintree in memory of late father
Willie Mullins to consider Champion Hurdle assault with Limini
Winter Derby at Lingfield a 'good starting point' for classy Mutakayyef
Beautiful Romance books Dubai World Cup night ticket
Race declared void on dramatic day at stormy Chelmsford
Colin Tizzard 'favouring' Neptune challenge at Cheltenham for Finian's Oscar
Tin Soldier battles to Michael Purcell success at Thurles
Tried and tested routine the order of the day for Cue Card and Native River
Colin Tizzard - Thistlecrack injury hit me for six
Storm Doris claims Huntingdon card
McPherson anticipating bold Bartlett bid from Ami Desbois
Annacotty leads 13 contenders for BetBright Chase glory

23 February 2017

Plenty to look forward to at the Festival for crack amateur Jamie Codd
Sara Bradstock pleased with Coneygree recovery progress
Imperial Cup option for Peace And Co
Soldier In Action on the Cheltenham Festival wagon after Doncaster romp
Nicky Henderson has Pendil preference for Different Gravey
Willie Mullins takes stock after 'huge performance' from Limini at Punchestown
Nicky Henderson wary of Un De Sceaux threat in Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham
David Simcock goes Meydan Trophy hunting with Sheikhzayedroad
All roads lead to Arkle Trophy for Altior and Nicky Henderson
Nicky Henderson says Noel Fehily still in Buveur D'Air frame for Champion Hurdle
Micky Hammond targets Naas prize with Just Cameron
Tom George issues Roc D'Apsis Kempton warning

22 February 2017

Luckless Jonathan Burke suffers further injury blow
Limini leaves Apple's Jade toiling at Punchestown
Melon and Moon Racer in Supreme mix as latest Festival scratchings revealed
Doyle admits ground uncertainty for Justmemyselfandi
Nicky Richards still considering National Hunt Chase challenge for Baywing
Epsom announces Friday switch for Coronation Cup
Harry Fry still debating Cheltenham options for Neon Wolf
Soft ground key to Acapella Bourgeois Festival run
Evan Williams mulling Albert Bartlett option for De Dollar Man
Robert Havlin 'deeply upset and shocked' at six-month France Galop riding ban
Jerrysback looks smart in extending unbeaten record at Wetherby
Colin Tizzard hoping to have Thistlecrack back at Christmas after tendon shock
Ch'Tibello team hoping to make Champion date despite wind operation
Paul Nicholls keen on Politologue chance in JLT Novices' Chase
Saphir Du Rheu to target Gold Cup at Cheltenham
Thistlecrack out of Cheltenham Gold Cup - racing reacts
Zarkandar set to take Stayers' Hurdle challenge at Cheltenham
Top mares Apple's Jade and Limini clash in Quevega heat at Punchestown

21 February 2017

Gold Cup shock as Cheltenham favourite Thistlecrack ruled out for the season
Evan Williams keen to tackle Adonis date with Evening Hush
Nine big guns to miss the Cheltenham Festival
Tendon injury rules Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack out for the season
Paul Moloney to see specialist again as he continues shoulder injury recovery
Lil Rockerfeller on course for National Spirit defence at Fontwell
Sceau Royal and Footpad both set for Champion date for Munir and Souede
Terry Doherty picks up top prize at Stud and Stable Staff Awards
Tendon problem rules out Champion Hurdle bid for Superb Story
Shotgun Paddy and Raz De Maree in line for Eider Chase honours
Bristol De Mai team to 'roll the dice' and head for Gold Cup
Ground crucial to Cheltenham bid for Colin's Sister
Brian Ellison happy to take Arkle challenge with Forest Bihan
Arpege D'Alene still in the frame for four-miler at Cheltenham
Mutakayyef leads 11 in Winter Derby contention
Course specialist Tea For Two heads 20 left in BetBright Chase at Kempton
Colin Kidd maps out Aintree aim for Rashaan

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