Champion Hurdle hopes impress Henderson

Nicky Henderson was thrilled with what he saw from Pentland Hills, Fusil Raffles and Verdana Blue as they continued their preparations for next month’s Unibet Champion Hurdle with a racecourse gallop at Kempton.

Champion Hurdle hopes impress Henderson

Nicky Henderson was thrilled with what he saw from Pentland Hills, Fusil Raffles and Verdana Blue as they continued their preparations for next month’s Unibet Champion Hurdle with a racecourse gallop at Kempton.

The three Cheltenham protagonists were among 13 horses sent to work at the Sunbury track yesterday morning in what has become an annual pre-Festival tradition for the Seven Barrows handler.

Working over a lap and a half on the all-weather track, none of the trio passed the post at the front of their gallops, with Pentland Hills and Verdana Blue finishing second and third respectively behind Adjali in the first group and Fusil Raffles following home Birchdale in the third lot.

Henderson said: “It was good and they all did what they had to. It just puts an edge on them and you don’t judge them by results here. I was happy with Pentland and Verdana and Fusil was all right.

“Nico (de Boinville) was saying he remembers when he rode The Polomoche and Binocular never got to him here a fortnight before (the 2010 Festival), but Binocular still won the Champion Hurdle.

“We know what the horses work like. One or two had a blow, that was fine and you take it will put them right, but a lot haven’t run for a bit and that is why they are here.”

While encouraged by what he saw, Henderson believes he has work to do with last year’s Triumph Hurdle winner Pentland Hills and fellow Grade One scorer Fusil Raffles.

He added: “I was very pleased with Pentland. Epatante is surely the one [for the Champion Hurdle]. I could make a case for Pentland as he did that well, but he has another bit of work to come. I think that was a step forward for Fusil and Daryl [Jacob] was happy. He is a horse that comes to life on a racecourse.

“He certainly did twice last year and we have got to get him back to that. Verdana Blue is going to have to go on ground that doesn’t suit her, but she is in great form.”

One horse that will not form part of Henderson’s team for the Festival is impressive Doncaster scorer Glynn, who was as short as 14-1 for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

Henderson said: “Glynn is not going. He looked very good at Doncaster, but he hasn’t come back to that since then.

“He has only had one run and is a baby. Everybody wants to go to Cheltenham, but that tells me it wouldn’t be a sensible thing to do.

“I would like to find a nice little race, finish on a good note and put him away for next year. “

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