Nicky Henderson has had a mixed couple of weeks with the sad demise of the talented but fragile Simonsig, whilst dual Champion Chaser Sprinter Sacre will be hard to replace after being retired due to tendon trouble. On the positive side, he’s unearthed some new talent, and still has plenty of horses with untapped potential to go to war with this season.
The 2016 Supreme Novice Hurdler was given a rating of 160, and many believed five-time Champion Hurdle winner Henderson would be bidding for a record sixth success with this imposing individual. However, a novice chase career is imminent, and he’s already 3/1 favourite for the 2017 Arkle. Could revert to hurdles if chasing doesn’t suit, but could go right to the top as a chaser if taking to the larger obstacles. Prefers good ground.
One horse that he did beat over hurdles was 2015 World Hurdle winner Cole Harden, and he was thought to be an exciting 3-mile chaser in the making until injury struck. Rated 160 over hurdles, he could still make the grade as a chaser, with a flat-track and good ground his favoured conditions judging off the best of his hurdles form.
Solid third in the Supreme behind stablemate Altior, and secured his own grade-1 at Aintree afterwards. Looked like a step-up in trip to beyond 2-miles could suit ideally and, though it hasn’t been decided whether he will remain over hurdle or try his luck over fences, the JLT Chase could be a long-term Cheltenham Festival target.
Won his novice chase at Ascot in decent style, but worth remembering that he put-up his best hurdles performance at that track. Not sure Cheltenham will suit him quite as well, and could be an interesting contender for next year’s Hennessey if things don’t go his way at any of the big spring festivals.
My Tent Or Yours
Runner-up in two Champion Hurdles, he’s unlikely to be getting any better at the age of 10. However, with few proper Champion Hurdle contenders around, he could still offer some each-way value for the 2017 Champion Hurdle. Bookies seem to have overreacted to his third at Haydock in a hurdle race at the Betfair Chase Meeting, however he was just one of many horses that day that couldn’t handle the heavy conditions that day – and 50/1 is insulting.
O O Seven
Had every right to win on his novice chase debut at Cheltenham, but disposed of race-fit rivals in exciting style. It will be interesting to see how the Irish novice chase form compares with the English form as the season progresses, but he should be a contender for the JLT Chase or RSA.
Vyta Du Roc
Conjured-up a decent turn of foot to win last season’s Reynoldstown Chase, and remains on a very handy mark of 143 after finishing just out of the frame in both the RSA and the Scottish Grand National. Looks sure to get a nice racing weight for the 2016 Hennessey whilst, if he fails to perform well there, he could remain on a handy mark for the Grand National.