Henderson plots dual Champion raid

Nicky Henderson outlined his plans for a 21-horse assault on the Cheltenham Festival, spearheaded by a double attack on the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle with Punjabi and Afsoun.

Nicky Henderson outlined his plans for a 21-horse assault on the Cheltenham Festival, spearheaded by a double attack on the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle with Punjabi and Afsoun.

The former turned in a splendid weight-carrying performance when second in the totesport Trophy, while Afsoun was last seen winning a Grade Two event at Sandown.

“Punjabi delighted me last time and will come on a bundle for it when he runs at Cheltenham next month,” said Henderson.

“Afsoun has had his problems at Cheltenham in the past but I’m looking forward to running both of them.”

The Seven Barrows handler will also have two runners in the opening Anglo Irish Bank Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with Sentry Duty and Khyber Kim.

“Khyber Kim is very, very well. I think he was on a bouncer when he was beaten at Doncaster and he was quite buzzy and very tricky to saddle up that day,” added Henderson.

“He’s a different horse now and seems back to his old self.”

Henderson is still deliberating what will happen with Binocular, who had to work very hard to win at Kempton.

He added: “I’m not worried about Kempton.

“He needed that run and will come on for it a lot.

“But at this stage, I just don’t know where he will run.”

Henderson ruled out Duc De Regniere from the Royal & SunAlliance Chase.

The gelding was beaten fair and square by Starzaan at Wincanton and his trainer commented: “He came back very sore and stiff and plans are on hold for him at the moment.”

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