Thursday, March 04, 2010




Trainer Nicky Henderson today described his star novice chasers Long Run and Punchestowns as the best horses he has handled in a training career spanning nearly 32 years.

The duo are set to lock horns in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham on Wednesday, March 17, with stable jockey Barry Geraghty partnering Punchestowns and amateur Sam Waley-Cohen due to ride Long Run, who is owned by the rider’s father Robert.

Henderson was speaking at a Cheltenham Racecourse media day at his Seven Barrows Stable in Lambourn, where he also elaborated on plans for many of his other Festival-bound stars.

“Long Run and Punchestowns are two horses that could go the whole way. They’re quite special,” said Henderson. “They are the best that I’ve had and my duty is to keep them in one piece to get where they need to be in two years (for the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup). Luckily there is no clash with jockeys.”

Long Run won the three-mile Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton on his British debut on Boxing Day and followed up with a runaway victory over two miles at Warwick on February 13.

“Long Run came out of his last run well,” added Henderson. “He is quite freakish in that he genuinely stays three miles but as we saw at Warwick he also has remarkable pace as well that he showed over two miles. It gives us more opportunities for the future although we’ll obviously find out an awful lot more at Cheltenham.

“He is in The Irish Independent Arkle Chase but that would be his second option at the moment. If the ground was bottomless at Cheltenham we might be tempted to come back to two miles for that because three miles on heavy ground in the RSA Chase would be an absolute slog.

“Punchestowns will probably go with a few of mine for a gallop at Newbury on Sunday. We’ll also run Burton Port in the RSA Chase and while it may not have been the best Reynoldstown ever that he won, he won it well and that’s two Grade Twos now this year.”

Henderson also confirmed that Barry Geraghty looks likely to partner last year’s winner Punjabi in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle rather than stablemate Zaynar, winner of last season’s JCB Triumph Hurdle.

"I think that Barry will stick with Punjabi through loyalty but nothing is set in stone and AP (McCoy) will ride whatever Barry doesn't in the Champion," said Henderson.

"Zaynar stays very well. He won the Triumph last year but the Champion is run on an easier course earlier in the week and I think that will be against him.

“He is surprisingly stuffy and I knew he’d need the run at Kelso and we’d have been stuck if he hadn’t gone there.

“I was dead chuffed with Punjabi at Kempton on Saturday, I know he had to win as he did but I just liked the way he did it. He gets forgotten but he’s done very little wrong and he’s won an Irish Champion as well.

“He’s going there on the back of a really good prep this year compared to last when he came in on the back of being walloped at Wincanton.”

The Queen’s Barbers Shop is on course for the Ryanair Chase on Thursday, March 18, having been off the course since Boxing Day.

“He looks great and will go to Cheltenham fresh which should be to his advantage as his first runs of the season have always been good. It seems that he’s not really seeing out the extended three-mile races so the Ryanair was the obvious race for him.”

Riverside Theatre, owned by actor Jimmy Nesbitt, and Mad Max are both set to line up in The Irish Independent Arkle Chase, while Oscar Whisky and General Miller will both line up in the opening Spinal Research Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, for which Bellvano is a possible.

Sentry Duty heads to the Ladbrokes World Hurdle while Finians Rainbow and possibly Quantitativeeasing could run in the Neptune Investments Novices Hurdle.

Soldatino, who made an impressive British debut when winning at Kempton on Saturday, is likely to take his chance in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

“He was relaxed, jumped well, didn’t pull and then picked up and took off in the straight. He can only come on a ton for that race and we’ve got to be tempted to give Cheltenham a go,” added Henderson.

“You’d have to say it’s a pretty weak year for the four-year-olds, compared to last season when there were the likes of Walkon and Zaynar about. There are a couple in Ireland but I haven’t seen anything too outstanding.”

Reflecting on his overall squad for this year’s Festival, Henderson added: “You’d have to say our team has a bit of strength in it and we are covered in as many areas as we can. What’s really nice is that a lot of our strength is with the young horses, we are very strong in the novice hurdles and chases so they are all about the future. I’m the only thing getting old around here!”

For further information, please contact Cheltenham Racecourse’s Communications Manager Andy Clifton on 07876 330 090


Born in Lambeth on December 10, 1950, Nicky Henderson was destined for a horseracing career, with his late father Johnny being the founder of Racecourse Holdings Trust, the Jockey Club subsidiary (and forerunner of Jockey Club Racecourses), which saved Cheltenham Racecourse and now has 14 courses under its umbrella.

Educated at Eton and the Royal Agricultural College, he worked for the City stockbroker’s Cazenove in London and Australia, where he gained experience riding work at Randwick. He made his name in Britain as an amateur rider, finishing runner-up three times in the amateur championship. His main wins came on Happy Warrior in the 1977 Fox Hunters Chase at Aintree and on Acquaint in Sandown’s Imperial Cup in the same year. His 50th win as an amateur came aboard Strange Love at Folkestone on October 3, 1977, and his final ride was aboard the victorious Rolls Rambler in the Horse & Hound Cup at Stratford in June, 1978, his 78th success.

He became assistant trainer to Fred Winter in 1974 and took out his own training licence in July, 1978, replacing Roger Charlton at Windsor House Stables, Lambourn. It did not take long for Henderson to establish himself as one of the leading members of his profession, landing the jump trainers' title in both 1985/6 and 1986/7.

In 1992, Henderson moved his string to Seven Barrows stables in Lambourn in a straight swap with trainer Peter Walwyn. That same year saw Henderson added to the Royal trainers’ list with the Queen Mother sending him three horses, including New Zealand Grand National winner Nearco Bay. He currently trains four horses for the Queen.

Henderson is always a trainer to follow at the big meetings and has trained 34 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, placing him equal second on the all-time list alongside Martin Pipe. He is six wins behind the great Fulke Walwyn. He also has the distinction of clinching three successive victories in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle with See You Then (1985, 86 & 87), a race he also took in 2009 with Punjabi. Those four wins make him the most successful current trainer in the race’s history and leave him one short of equalling Peter Easterby’s all-time record.

Other high-profile successes at The Festival have come with Remittance Man in the 1992 Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase as well as Rustle (1989) and Bacchanal (2000) in what is now the Ladbrokes World Hurdle. Zaynar’s victory in the 2009 JCB Triumph Hurdle was Henderson’s fourth in the race after First Bout (1985), Alone Success (1987) and Katarino (1999). He has also landed the Byrne Group Plate, formerly the Mildmay Of Flete, on four occasions with The Tsarevich (1985 & 1986), Liberthine (2005) and Non So (2006).

At The Festival in 2006, Henderson landed an emotional triumph in the race named to commemorate his father, the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase. Greenhope was the horse that provided the special moment as he stayed on gamely up the hill to victory.

Henderson has clinched the Thomas Pink Award as leading or joint-leading trainer at the Festival on seven occasions, most recently in 2000 with four successes. He also topped the ranks in 1993 (joint - two wins), 1992 (joint - two wins), 1990 (two wins), 1987 (joint - two wins), 1986 (three wins) and 1985 (three wins).

Away from The Festival, his numerous big-race wins include the Paddy Power Gold Cup (2003 Fondmort), the Gold Cup (2002 Fondmort, 2003 Iris Royal), the Melling Chase (1992 Remittance Man), the totesport Trophy (1998 Sharpical, 2000 & 2004 Geos, 2001 Landing Light) and the Sandown Gold Cup (1989 Brown Windsor), as well as a host of Grade One triumphs on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Henderson does not restrict his talents to Jump racing and has also enjoyed big-race wins on the Flat. His biggest successes to date have come in the totesport Cesarewitch (2003 Landing Light, 2008 Caracciola) and the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot (2009 Caracciola). The trainer’s first Flat success in Britain came with his first runner, Thinking Twice, at Newmarket in April, 1993.

Mick Fitzgerald was his long-time stable jockey until retirement in 2008. Barry Geraghty is currently in his second season as stable jockey at Seven Barrows, splitting his time between Britain and his home in Ireland, and has continued in as successful a vein as his predecessor.

He sent out his 105th winner of the season at Warwick on Friday, February 26, and looks set to beat his previous best total of 115 successes last season.


Tuesday, March 16

Spinal Research Supreme Novices' Hurdle

Bellvano, General Miller, Ghimaar, Oscar Whisky

The Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase

French Opera, Long Run, Mad Max, Riverside Theatre

William Hill Trophy Handicap Chase

Oedipe, Trabolgan

Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy

Punjabi, Zaynar

Wednesday, March 17

Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle

Finian's Rainbow, General Miller, Master Of The Hall, Quantitativeeasing

RSA Chase

Burton Port, Long Run, Punchestowns

Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase

Petit Robin

Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

Ainama, Andytown, Busker Royal, Caracciola, Erzen, Fairyland, Gold Award, My Petra, Quantitativeeasing , Spirit River,

Stravinsky Dance, Tanks For That, Tasheba,

Thursday, March 18

Jewson Novices' Handicap Chase

Aigle D'Or, Carole's Legacy, Dave's Dream, Special Envoy, Tanks For That, The Polomoche, Viking Rebel, Wogan, Working Title

Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle

Ainama, Andytown, Busker Royal, Erzen, Fairyland

Ryanair Chase

Barbers Shop, Jack The Giant, Petit Robin

Ladbrokes World Hurdle

Sentry Duty

Byrne Group Plate Handicap Chase

Aigle D'Or, My Petra, Shouldhavehadthat,

Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase

Fleet Street, Oedipe, Polyfast, Scots Dragoon, Shouldhavehadthat, Trabolgan, Wogan

Friday, March 19

JCB Triumph Hurdle

According, Soldatino, Super Kenny

Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle

Afsoun, Bellvano, Black Coffee, Eradicate, Fairyland

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle

Caracciola, Erzen, Fairyland, Gold Award, Kerada, Lord Generous, Miss Sarenne, My Petra, Peveril, Quantitativeeasing, Radium, Ranjobaie, Spirit River, Tanks For That, Viking Rebel

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup Handicap

Dave's Dream, First Point, French Opera, My Petra, Pepsyrock, You're The Top



40 Fulke Walwyn (Winners from 1946-86)


34 Martin Pipe (1981-2006)

28 Fred Winter (1970-88)

26 Tom Dreaper IRE (1946-71)

25 Paul Nicholls (1999- )

25 Fred Rimell (1948-81)

23 Vincent O'Brien IRE (1948-59)

23 Bob Turnell (1956-80)

22 Ivor Anthony (1930-52)

19 George Beeby (1930-59)

18 Edward O'Grady IRE (1974- )

17 David Nicholson (1986-99)

16 Jonjo O'Neill (1991- )

15 Harry Brown (1920-38)

15 Tom Coulthwaite (1911-36)

15 Tom Rimell (1927-49)

15 Willie Mullins IRE (1995- )

14 Dan Moore IRE (1953-79)

13 Jack Anthony (1929-50)

13 Tim Forster (1963-98)

13 Peter Easterby (1967-86)

12 John Edwards (1969-94)

12 Tom Jones (1965-78)



25 Paul Nicholls

18 Edward O'Grady IRE

16 Jonjo O'Neill

15 Willie Mullins IRE

11 Philip Hobbs

11 Alan King

10 Nigel Twiston-Davies

9 David Elsworth

8 Ferdy Murphy

7 Howard Johnson

7 Henrietta Knight

7 Arthur Moore IRE

6 Francois Doumen FR

6 Jessica Harrington IRE

6 Mouse Morris IRE

6 Oliver Sherwood

5 Enda Bolger IRE

5 Dessie Hughes IRE

5 Aidan O'Brien IRE

5 Venetia Williams



8 b g Saddler’s Hall (IRE) - Close Harmony (Bustino)

Form: 1/3122U/124121/217-43 Owner: The Queen Breeder: Queen Elizabeth

Barbers Shop was bred by the late Queen Mother and made his debut for Her Majesty The Queen in a very competitive Wincanton bumper on March 9, 2006, defeating Denman’s full-brother Silverburn by a short-head. He made his hurdling bow at Newbury that November, finishing third to the subsequent Irish Champion Hurdle winner Sizing Europe. Victory followed at Ascot the following month but, despite twice going close, he was unable to win any of his three subsequent starts that term.

A success over hurdles at Southwell in June, 2007 preceded a switch to fences in December when he finished runner-up to Big Buck’s. His next outing produced a fourth place finish in the Grade One Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton and he returned to that venue for a beginners’ chase success over an extended two and a half miles in February, 2008. That race primed him for the 2008 Festival and a tilt at the Listed Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase. The Queen narrowly missed out on a first Festival success as Barbers Shop went down by a neck to Finger Onthe Pulse. He made some amends by rounding off the season with a Newbury success the following month.

The 2008/09 season commenced at The Open in November with a runner-up finish in the Grade Three Paddy Power Gold Cup. In a light campaign, Barbers Shop proved his stamina with a Listed success over an extended three miles at Sandown in December and took seventh place behind Kauto Star in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup at the 2009 Festival.

Barbers Shop contested the Grade Three Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury to kick off the current campaign on November 28. No match for the victorious Denman, he finished a respectable fourth to that rival. Barbers Shop headed to Kempton for the Grade One King George VI Chase on Boxing Day and ran well before tiring two out. The eight-year-old crossed the line third, 37 lengths behind the great Kauto Star.

Race Record: Starts: 17; Wins: 6; 2nd: 5; 3rd: 2; Win & Place Prize Money: £140,655


7 b g Tiraaz - Trinity Gale (IRE) (Strong Gale)

Form: 1-131 Owner: Michael Buckley Breeder: J O'Keeffe

Formerly trained by Adrian Maguire in Ireland, Finian’s Rainbow was unlucky not to win a point-to-point at Inch in March, 2008, as he fell at the final fence with the race at his mercy. He was bought by Michael Buckley and sent to Nicky Henderson shortly afterwards but missed the first half of the 2008/09 season with a series of small setbacks. He finally made his British debut in a Kempton bumper in March, 2009, and easily accounted for his nine rivals to win unchallenged by six lengths.

Sent hurdling this season, Finian’s Rainbow posted an even more impressive performance to win a Newbury novices’ hurdle on November 28 as he strolled to a 15-length victory over Sereth. He returned to the Berkshire course on December 29 to contest the Grade One Challow Hurdle, in which he ran a fine race to take a close third behind Reve De Sivola and Restless Harry.

Finian’s Rainbow returned to the winner’s enclosure at Ascot on February 20 as he dropped down in grade to win a novices’ hurdle on the bridle.

Race Record: Starts: 4; Wins: 3; 2nd: -; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £17,536


5 b g Cadoudal (FR) - Libertina (FR) (Balsamo (FR))

Form: 21211113-121111 Owner: Robert Waley-Cohen Breeder: Marie-Christine Gabeur

After only two starts on British soil, Long Run is one of the most exciting novice chasers on the block. That is hardly surprising given his excellent record in France where he began his career with trainer Guillaume Macaire, initially racing in the colours of his breeder Marie-Christine Gabeur. Long Run finished runner-up in a Listed hurdle at Auteuil on his career debut in May, 2008, but a first win came before the month was out as he defeated the smart Mr Thriller in a two and a quarter-mile Listed hurdle at the same venue.

The Cadoudal gelding raced 12 times in his homeland, each time at Auteuil. On September 4, 2008, he first sported the colours of owner Robert Waley-Cohen. By October he had earned a shot at the Grade Two Prix Georges de Talhouet-Roy and he duly landed the two-mile hurdle by six lengths. A first Grade One triumph followed on November 9 over the same course and distance in the Prix Cambaceres.

March, 2009, brought a Grade Three triumph but the following month saw him finish third, the only time to date that he has finished out of the first two. A step up to an extended two and a half miles brought Listed success, followed by a runner-up finish in the Grade One Prix Ferdinand Dufaure on May 24.

Long Run returned to action in the autumn and commenced a four-race winning streak. A Grade Three triumph on October 11 preceded success on November 8 in France’s equivalent of the Triumph Hurdle, the Grade One Prix Maurice Gillois Grand Steeple Chase 4 Ans.

He moved to Nicky Henderson’s Lambourn yard shortly after that win and made a stunning British debut with a 13-length defeat of Tazbar in the Grade One Feltham Novices’ Chase over three miles at Kempton on Boxing Day. Long Run dropped back to two miles for the Grade Two Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Warwick on February 13 and easily landed the spoils. The owner’s son amateur rider Sam Waley-Cohen has partnered the five-year-old in both of his British starts.

Race Record: Starts: 14; Wins: 10; 2nd: 3; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £690,974


7 b g Robin Des Pres (FR) - Joie De Cotte (FR) (Lute Antique (FR ))

Form: 11/61/12237-12 Owner: John & Anne Poynton

Breeder: Gilles Le Bihan, Y Regereau, & V Baty

Petit Robin scored over fences at Pau, France, on both his starts for trainer Loic Manceau prior to being bought by John Poynton and joining the Nicky Henderson yard in the summer of 2007. He made an ambitious British debut in the Grade Two Sharp Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham’s Open meeting that November, in which he came home a respectable sixth behind I’msingingtheblues. He made no mistake when romping to a 13-length success in a novices’ hurdle at Newbury the following month.

After missing the rest of the campaign, Petit Robin returned to the larger obstacles for the 2008/09 season and he belied an absence of 11 months when making all of the running to triumph by 13 lengths in a handicap chase at Newbury’s Hennessy meeting. He posted another excellent performance when going down by three-quarters of a length to Fiepes Shuffle in the Grade Two Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton and also took the runner-up spot in the Grade One Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot in January, 2009, when coming home 16 lengths behind Master Minded.

Petit Robin confirmed his position as one of the leading two-mile chasers when taking third behind the same horse in the Grade One Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase at The Festival last year, although his campaign ended on a disappointing note as he made a couple of serious errors before coming home seventh in the Grade One Melling Chase at Aintree’s Grand National meeting.

He made his seasonal return in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on December 27, when he stayed on well to beat Well Chief and I’msingingtheblues and he took second behind a Paul Nicholls-trained chaser for a second successive year in the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot on January 23, going down by 12 lengths to Twist Magic.

Race Record: Starts: 11; Wins: 5; 2nd: 3; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £181,820


5 b g Oscar (IRE) - Ash Baloo (IRE) (Phardante (FR))

Form: 1-111 Owner: Walters Plant Hire Ltd Breeder: Stephanie Hanly

An 80,000 euros purchase at the 2008 Goffs Landrover National Hunt Sale, Oscar Whisky made his debut for owner Dai Walters, the driving force behind Ffos Las racecourse, in a junior bumper at Newbury in March, 2009. Sent off the even money favourite for the extended mile and a half contest, he didn’t come off the bridle and recorded a facile nine-length victory over Sophies Trophy.

Oscar Whisky returned to Newbury and posted another comprehensive bumper success on November 26 before making his hurdling debut at the same course on December 16, taking a maiden hurdle at a canter to beat Spirit Of Adjisa by seven lengths.

He warmed up for a crack at the Spinal Research Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with another convincing success as he took a Sandown novices’ hurdle under a confident ride from Barry Geraghty on February 19.

Race Record: Starts: 4; Wins: 4; 2nd: -; 3rd: -; Win & Place Prize Money: £12,463


7 ch g Morespeed - History (FR) (Alesso (USA))

Form: 1/122113/1122-11 Owner: Judy Wilson Breeder: Gerard Ferte

Punchestowns was bred in France by Gerard Ferte and began his career in the French provinces under the care of trainer Philippe Chemin. His first start, in June, 2006, came on the Flat in an extended mile and a half non-thoroughbred contest at Granville-St Pair Sur Mer on the Normandy coast, in which he finished second. He raced twice more on the level that term before breaking his maiden in an AQPS National Hunt Flat race at Lisieux in April, 2007. Another win and two second placings followed in similar contests that summer before he was sold to run in the colours of the late Lynn Wilson, who always had a great love of Punchestown racecourse, and joined trainer Nicky Henderson’s team in Lambourn.

Punchestowns made a winning debut over hurdles at Sandown on February 15, 2008, defeating The Package in an extended two-mile novice event. He followed up with an eight-length success over Ogee at Uttoxeter a month later, conceding 10lb to the subsequent Grade One winner. His final start of that campaign saw him take third behind Elusive Dream in an extended two mile, five furlong novice hurdle at Cheltenham’s April meeting.

The 2008/09 season began for Punchestowns at The Open in November when he carried top-weight in a two mile, five furlong handicap hurdle and slammed his rivals. That success prompted a step into Grade One company for the BGC Long Walk Hurdle over three miles and a furlong at Ascot in December. Punchestowns was even more impressive in winning that contest as he drew 11 lengths clear of stable mate Duc De Regniere.

January, 2009, took Punchestowns back to Cheltenham for the Grade Two Cleeve Hurdle over three miles. Conceding 8lb to Big Buck’s he was unable to match that rival and took the runner-up berth, four lengths adrift. The pair renewed rivalry on equal terms in the Grade One Ladbrokes World Hurdle over the same course and distance at The Festival in March but Punchestowns once again had to settle for second, a length and three quarters behind Big Buck’s.

After a long summer of rest, Punchestowns made his chasing bow at Newbury on November 27. The chestnut easily made a winning start to his new venture, winning the two and a half-mile Grade Two contest under Barry Geraghty. His latest outing produced an imperious eight-length victory over Tchico Polos in the Grade One totepool Challenger Novices’ Chase at Sandown on February 6.

Race Record (Jumps): Starts: 13: Wins: 8; 2nd: 4; 3rd: 1; Wins & Place Prize Money: £207,289


7 b g Komaite (USA) - Competa (Hernando (FR ))

Jumps Form: 11421/4231/1F31-242 Owner: Raymond Tooth Breeder: Capt Jim Wilson

Punjabi won three of his 14 starts on the Flat for Geraldine Rees before being purchased for 42,000 guineas by Highflyer Bloodstock on behalf of renowned matrimonial lawyer Raymond Tooth at the 2006 Tattersalls Horses in Training Sale. He made a winning debut over hurdles for new trainer Nicky Henderson when easily taking a Ludlow juvenile novices’ hurdle in January, 2007, and followed up with an enterprising victory in the Grade Two Adonis Juvenile Novices' Hurdle at Kempton, as he made all of the running under Mick Fitzgerald to score by 19 lengths.

He took fourth behind Katchit in the Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival in 2007 and clinched the runner-up spot behind the Alan King-trained gelding in the Grade One Anniversary 4-Y-O Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree. His first season over hurdles ended with a deserved Grade One victory in the Punchestown Champion 4-Y-O Hurdle.

Punjabi made his seasonal reappearance for the 2007/08 campaign in the Grade One Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, in which he was fourth behind Straw Bear, and he showed the benefit of that run when taking second in the Grade Three Totesport Trophy Hurdle at Newbury in February, 2008. He improved further when coming home third behind Katchit in the Grade One Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle at The Festival and ended his season with another big victory at Punchestown, winning the Grade One ACCBank Champion Hurdle.

After winning a pair of handicaps on the Flat in the summer of 2008, Punjabi made a winning return to the National Hunt scene when grinding out a head victory over Sublimity in the Grade One Fighting Fifth Hurdle, run at Wetherby, that December. He was duly sent off a short-priced favourite for Kempton’s Christmas Hurdle but fell heavily when producing his challenge at the penultimate flight.

He also disappointed when coming home third in the Grade Two Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton in February, 2009, but bounced back to record the biggest success of his career to date in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle at last year’s Festival as he gamely held off the challenges of Celestial Halo and Binocular to prevail by a neck and a head in a thrilling finish. He ended his campaign with a third successive appearance at the Punchestown festival as he was collared in the dying strides by Solwhit in the Rabobank Champion Hurdle.

A notoriously hard horse to get fit, Punjabi failed to shine on his first two appearances of the current campaign. After bypassing the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, he travelled well before fading to fourth in the Grade Two International at Cheltenham on December 12. He failed to build on that performance when coming second to Medermit in Haydock’s Grade Two Champion Hurdle Trial on January 23. With the cold weather decimating the fixture list, Punjabi was forced to miss his intended engagements in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las (January 23) and in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton (February 20).

Was due to run in Racing Post iPhone App HBLB Champion Hurdle Trial at Kempton on Saturday.

Jumps Race Record: Starts: 16; Wins: 6; 2nd: 4; 3rd: 2; Win & Place Prize Money: £580,105


5 ch g Anshan - Mazuma (IRE) (Mazaad)

Form: 1112 Owner: J P McManus Breeder: Sheila Moore

Quantitativeeasing is bred to make a mark over jumps and has shown plenty of promise is his four starts to date. The five-year-old Anshan gelding is a full-brother to multiple Grade One winning hurdler Asian Maze out of Mazuma, herself successful over hurdles. Highflyer Bloodstock paid £37,000 for Quantitativeeasing as an unraced three-year-old at Doncaster Sales in May, 2008.

He made an impressive racecourse debut in a two-mile Irish National Hunt Flat race at Punchestown on April 28, 2009, scoring by eight lengths under J P Magnier in the colours of his mother Sue.

Quantitativeeasing returned to action at Newcastle on November 28 and posted another eye-catching effort, this time in the colours of J P McManus. Ridden by Tony McCoy, he was never of the bridle in the home straight and landed the two-mile maiden hurdle by an easy five lengths. It was a similar story at Newbury on December 29. With McCoy again in the plate, Quantitativeeasing made light of the testing conditions and extra half-furlong to win as he liked by six lengths.

His most recent start, on February 12, brought his first defeat. Sent off the odds-on favourite for the third successive time, McCoy’s mount was unable to overcome the determined run of Phidippides and went down by a neck in the two mile, five furlong Betdaq Poker Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton.

Race Record: Starts: 4; Wins: 3; 2nd: 1; 3rd: -; Win & Place Prize Money: £18,825


6 b g King´s Theatre (IRE) - Disallowed (IRE) (Distinctly North (USA))

Form: 13/12114-311 Owner: Jimmy Nesbitt Partnership Breeder: Goldford Stud

Riverside Theatre, who races in the colours of actor Jimmy Nesbitt, ran on strongly to take a Kempton bumper on his debut in February, 2008. He was third behind Diamond Harry in a valuable bumper at Newbury the following month, but scored in a lesser contest at Ascot that November.

He took second on his hurdling debut at Newbury later that month and followed up that promising effort with a cosy victory in a novices’ hurdle at Kempton in January, 2009. After posting another facile success at Newbury, Riverside Theatre stepped up to Grade Two company to contest the Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, in which he ran an excellent race to come home fourth behind El Dancer. He ended his campaign with another pleasing effort to take third behind Hurricane Fly in the Grade One Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle.

Sent chasing this season, Riverside Theatre made an even more impressive start over fences as he produced a faultless display of jumping to take a Newbury beginners’ chase by 28 lengths on November 26.

Having previously been victorious on both his appearances at Kempton, it was little surprise that Riverside Theatre returned to the Sunbury course for the Grade Two Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase on December 27 and he maintained his faultless record there with a cosy 12-length success over El Dancer.

Race Record: Starts: 10; Wins: 6; 2nd: 1; 3rd: 2; Win & Place Prize Money: £56,114


5 gr g Daylami (IRE) - Zainta (IRE) (Kahyasi)

Jumps Form: 111-112 Owners: Men In Our Position Breeder: H H The Aga Khan's Studs

A son of Prix de Diane winner Zainta, Zaynar made three appearances on the Flat in France for his owner/breeder the Aga Khan and trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre, posting his best effort when going down by a nose in a 12-furlong contest at Lyon in June, 2008. He was purchased for 110,000 euros at the Saint-Cloud Summer Sale the following month by Highflyer Bloodstock on behalf of the Men In Our Position syndicate, which includes leading bookmaker Victor Chandler.

Zaynar made his debut for Nicky Henderson in a juvenile novices’ hurdle at Newbury in December, 2008, a race that the trainer had enjoyed considerable success, courtesy of five consecutive winners between 2001 and 2005. Having taken the lead at the final flight, Zaynar quickened impressively to record a four-length verdict over Walkon.

Such a convincing debut hurdling performance saw Zaynar installed as favourite for the JCB Triumph Hurdle and he further enhanced his Festival claims with an easy victory on his next start in a juvenile novices’ hurdle at Ascot in January, 2009. He warmed up for Cheltenham with a racecourse gallop at Kempton, where his lazy attitude persuaded his trainer to equip the gelding with cheekpieces, and duly capped a superb first season over hurdles with a game victory in the JCB Triumph Hurdle as he gamely repelled the late challenge of Walkon to prevail by three-quarters of a length.

Zaynar made his seasonal return over two and a half miles in the Grade Two Ascot Hurdle on November 21 and looked better than ever as he took on older opposition for the first time, forging clear after the final flight to beat Karabak by six lengths.

He returned to Cheltenham to contest the extended two and a half-mile Grade Two Relkeel Hurdle at the Boylesports International on December 12, when he once again posted a commanding six-length verdict, this time over Cape Tribulation.

Zaynar was expected to complete his preparation for the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle with a routine victory in the Morebattle Hurdle over two and a quarter miles at Kelso on February 18 but he could not get on terms with Quwetwo on the soft ground and was beaten a length by the Howard Johnson-trained giant. He is set to return to two miles and will wear cheekpieces for the first time this season in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle.

Jumps Race Record: Starts: 6; Wins: 5; 2nd: 1; 3rd: -; Win & Place Prize Money: £167,272


The Seven Barrows battalion is always well represented at The Festival and this year is no exception.

The William Hill Trophy could see 2005 RSA Chase victor Trabolgan line up, having unseated when in contention at Doncaster last time, while Oedipe (engaged to run at Kempton on Saturday) is another possible for the extended three-mile contest.

Henderson has engaged 13 hurdlers for the two mile, five furlong Coral Cup including the 13-year-old Royal Ascot hero Caracciola, the Queen’s Gold Award, last season’s Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle winner Andytown, Gerry Feilden Hurdle winner Fairyland, Ainama, Tasheba and the classy novice Quantitativeeasing.

Nine horses have been entered for the Listed Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase over two miles, five furlongs, including the well-regarded Wogan, successful in a three-mile novices’ handicap at Doncaster in January. Other possible contenders include the prolific mare Carole’s Legacy, Viking Rebel (engaged to run at Kempton on Saturday) and The Polomoche.

French Opera has won his last three starts, including two at Cheltenham, and holds an entry in both the Irish Independent Arkle and the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase over two miles. Henderson has entered seven of his team for the latter, including Pepsyrock, Dave’s Dream and the classy mare My Petra, who holds multiple entries.

My Petra, runner-up in a Grade Two hurdle at Doncaster earlier this month, is also among three possible Henderson contenders for the two mile, five furlong Byrne Group Plate Handicap Chase. The others are Aigle D’Or and Shouldhavehadthat.

Ainama, Busker Royal, Andytown, Fairyland and the classy five-year-old Erzen have all been entered for the Pertemps Final over three miles, while those entered for two mile Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle are 2007 Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle third Afsoun (due to run at Fontwell yesterday), this season’s Scottish County Handicap Hurdle victor Eradicate, Fairyland and the talented novices Bellvano and Black Coffee.

Trabolgan and Wogan are among seven entries for the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase over an extended three miles, one furlong for amateur riders. Other Henderson-trained entries include Fleet Street, Scots Dragoon and Polyfast, who defeated Wogan at Kempton in December.

The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle over an extended two and a half miles has attracted 15 Henderson-trained entries. Alongside the likes of Caracciola, My Petra, Gold Award, Quantitativeeasing, Erzen and Fairyland, are Kerada, unbeaten in three starts this term, the talented novice Lord Generous, course winners Spirit River and Radium, the unbeaten novice Peveril and the smart five-year-old Ranjobaie.




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