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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 April 2014

War saunters to easy success
Quevega five-timer still on course
Wylie trio go for Gold
Cyclone blows into Punchestown
Rain set to help Punchestown
Rifles aimed at York
Dante considered for Arod
Carpenter faces stamina question
Tonto strives for Sandown scalp
Telescope sights fixed on Sandown
Prize lined up for Greffulhe raid
Celebration time for super Sire
Taghrooda swerves Sandown heat
Concorde checks in for Punchestown
No Sandown run for Oscar
Un De Sceaux to skip Punchestown
Treve among stellar Ascot entries
Charline still in Guineas mix
Big guns remain in Guineas frame
Prince in Punchestown frame
Sparrow set for Punchestown spin
Balder to take novice test
Connell eager for Tank chase run

23 April 2014

Telescope tops Richards runners
No rush for Annie target
Cosgrave appeal set for Monday
Hughes set for Sandown return
France adds flair to Guineas
Mullins drops Vautour Champion hint
Exciting Bunker given Dante date
Culloty keen on Gold run for Heeled
Hannon triple-handed in Guineas
Resurge revived for Epsom return
Sandown option for Battalion
Johnston pair clash in Derby Trial
Reckless Abandon returns to track

22 April 2014

Rizeena delights in Guineas workout
Carberry targets swift return
Williamson escapes serious injury
Rizeena thrills Brittain on gallops
Door bags National glory
Twiston-Davies hits four-timer
Joe suffers shock defeat
Scudamore hits century mark
Ivan lands Fairyhouse prize
Thousand shows star quality
Cirrus set for Treve clash
Houblon heads Gold contenders
Guineas still on Berkshire radar

21 April 2014

Door bags National glory
Wilson passes away
Ivan lands Fairyhouse prize
Stepper set for trip drop
Richards in Telescope sights
Ladies geared for Summer repeat
Hill out of Irish National
No Dundeel at Royal Ascot
Clowance up for the Cup
Garner hit with lengthy ban
Memories in Final flourish
Fitz powers home at Fairyhouse
Toner hits target for Elliott
Joe ready for Cork outing
Lennon looking to call tune
Ground holds key to Tonto show
Lucky escape for Cook
Mind called up for National service

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