Rain is no bad thing for Henderson’s hopes

NICKY HENDERSON welcomed the rain which has maintained cut in the ground at Cheltenham as he put the finishing touches on a 24-strong team for next week’s Festival.

And the trainer voiced his hope that slower conditions may see some of the races run at a sensible pace.

Henderson, who saddled Trabolgan (Royal & SunAlliance Chase), Juveigneur (Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Memorial Chase) and Liberthine (Mildmay Of Flete) to score at the 2005 fixture, believes a more cautious approach from the men on board would benefit everybody.

“They had five millimetres on Tuesday, while we had 12 in Lambourn, and when I say I hope there’s some cut in the ground next week I don’t mean just for the sake of my horses,” he said.

“When the ground rides fast at the Festival everyone goes too quick and nobody wants that.

“We’ve seen it a lot in recent years but this time we have a chance of a change.”

Henderson worked the majority of his team on Tuesday and Triumph Hurdle favourite Afsoun sparkled in his customary style.

“He delighted me and touch wood everything has gone to plan,” the trainer said. “Grande Jete also went very well and will hopefully be back in the County Hurdle.”

The latter is part-owned by golfer Lee Westwood and former trainer Jeremy Hindley. Fourth in the County last year, he will be having his first outing since a disappointing run at Aintree.

Speculation that impressive Newbury winner Temoin could tackle the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle was ended when Henderson ruled him out.

He went on: “As I said straight after the Newbury race, he will be kept back for a three-miler at Aintree.”

Henderson expects to be double handed in the Racing Post Plate (formerly the Mildmay Of Flete) with Chauvinist and Non So, while Juveigneur tackles the William Hill Handicap Chase and Liberthine is to try and follow that horse’s hoofprints by trying to land the Fulke Walwyn Chase.

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