Henderson on weather watch for Sacre’s Punchestown run

Nicky Henderson will be keeping a keen eye on the weather before committing stable star Sprinter Sacre to a run at the Punchestown Festival next week.

An incredibly impressive winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month, the seven-year-old took a step up to two and a half miles in his stride and extended his unbeaten record over fences to nine with another flawless display in the Melling Chase at Aintree.

The champion trainer-elect remains keen to send his charge to Ireland for the first time for the Boylesports.com Champion Chase on April 23, but is wary about the prospect of testing conditions.

Henderson said: “Barry (Geraghty) is going to come over in the morning to pop him over one or two (fences). I just hope it doesn’t get any wetter over there.

“We want to go, and so do Long Run and Riverside Theatre. We’ll keep talking to Richie Galway (general manager) at Punchestown. We just don’t want it to get too soft and we’ll just keep an eye on the weather.

“There’ll be others to go. Nadiya de la Vega and Malt Master could go and I might run a few bumper horses.”

Meanwhile, Philip Hobbs is looking forward to seeing Captain Chris return to a right-handed circuit in the Bet Online With The Tote.com Punchestown Gold Cup on April 24.

From three starts on a right-handed track so far this season, the hugely-talented nine-year-old has won the Amlin 1965 Chase at Ascot, finished a neck second to Long Run in the King George VI Chase at Kempton and chased home Cue Card in the Betfair Ascot Chase.

He ran creditably when sixth going the other way around in last month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, but his trainer is hoping for improvement in Punchestown.

“He’s very well, he’s won at Punchestown before and we know he likes going right-handed, so we’re looking forward to that,” said Hobbs.

Also entered to run at Ireland’s premier National Hunt Festival is Wishfull Thinking, a distant third behind the incredible Sprinter Sacre in Cheltenham’s Queen Mother Champion Chase last month.

But with Sprinter Sacre looking a likely runner in the Boylesports.com Champion Chase at Punchestown, Wishfull Thinking is set to stay at home.

“We’ll be avoiding Sprinter Sacre so assuming he’s going over to Punchestown, Wishfull Thinking will probably run in the Celebration Chase at Sandown instead,” said Hobbs.

Meanwhile, connections of Imperial Commander will wait until the autumn before making a decision on whether the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero takes to the racecourse again next season.

The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained 12-year-old bounced back from a near two-year absence with a fine run in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham in January, but missed the chance of regaining his Gold Cup crown after suffering a lung infection.

Imperial Commander returned to action in the John Smith’s Grand National, but was pulled up along the second circuit.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox