Barbers could make cut for Punchestown

The Queen could be represented at the Punchestown Festival after trainer Nicky Henderson announced Barbers Shop as a possible runner in the Guinness Gold Cup.

Connections had initially ruled out the seven-year-old of any further racecourse appearances this term after he finished seventh to Kauto Star at Cheltenham last month.

But Henderson is now considering a trip to Co. Kildare in three weeks’ time.

Henderson, speaking at a Punchestown-organised media morning at his Lambourn yard, said: “I have discussed it with the owner, and the Queen says we should stick him in the race and see how he is in a weeks’ time.

“I talked to the Queen last night and she was worried about the way the Cheltenham horses ran at Aintree, but there is a big difference as there is an extra three weeks to Punchestown.

“It was Barry Geraghty who first mooted the idea as he couldn’t see what else would run.

“He worked with Punchestowns (on Tuesday morning) and it was their first proper piece of work since Cheltenham. He worked well and is in good form.

“He has only had three runs this season, so hasn’t had an overly hard time of it.

“I am not saying he will definitely run, but he will be entered.

“We’ll see how he is and how the ground is – it is vital that it is not fast.”

Henderson will field a team of up to seven runners at the five-day meeting later this month, with Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle winner, Punjabi, aiming to repeat his success of 12 months ago.

The six-year-old saw off Sublimity to land the Rabobank Champion Hurdle last year and again has the two-mile event as his end-of-season target.

Henderson added: “He won well at Cheltenham. but the Aintree race is over two and a half miles so he will go back to Punchestown and try and win there again.

“He does deserve another prize as his fall at Kempton cost him a lot of money by losing out on the WBX bonus.”

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