Gold Cup hopeful Chantry House leads Nicky Henderson’s powerful quartet as trainer looks to extend golden run at Cheltenham and Doncaster
- Chantry House is the bookies’ favourite in the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase
- Nicky Henderson’s Champ and Balco Coastal also in action at Cheltenham
- Henderson-trained Fusil Raffles is the favourite in Doncaster’s Sky Bet Chase
- Trainer has been on a golden run of form since Boxing Day victories
Gold Cup aspirant Chantry House (Cheltenham, 2.30) spearheads Nicky Henderson’s assault on Saturday’s marquee races, as the eight-year-old bids to put his season back on track in the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase.
The Seven Barrows trainer also saddles two other hot favourites in Champ, in the Chapel Stud Cleeve Hurdle at Prestbury Park, and Fusil Raffles, in Doncaster’s Sky Bet Chase, as he looks to continue a golden run since Boxing Day which has brought victories for a number of his stable stars.
A powerful quartet is completed by Balco Coastal, who will strive to enhance his Festival credentials in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, and victory for the six-year-old could complete a day to forget for the layers.
Chantry House is the pick of the field in the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase on Saturday
It is perhaps Chantry House, though, who has more to prove, even if this afternoon’s staying feature is not as deep as some previous renewals.
Well-backed to launch a major assault on the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day, last season’s Marsh Novices’ Chase winner failed to fire and was pulled up following an effort which was littered with errors.
The failure to find a rhythm at his fences and travel with any fluency was disconcerting for a second-season chaser aspiring to build a cogent case as a potential Gold Cup winner.
The eight-year-old won the Marsh Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham last season
Chantry House was among the favourites in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day, but was pulled up following a disappointing performance
However, every horse should be afforded an off day and the tempo of this afternoon’s event should be a good deal gentler than the ferocious early gallop set by Minella Indo and Frodon on Boxing Day.
Chantry House should also be happier returning to Cheltenham, where he posted one of his career best efforts in the spring, and a return to better ground may be an assistance given how he dismantled Aye Right and Simply The Betts, who has his stamina to prove at today’s distance.
Henderson reaches for the cheekpieces to help concentrate the mind of his talented star, and if they help him regain his mojo he really ought to go very close to redeeming his reputation.
Nicky Henderson has another three horses involved in marquee races on Saturday afternoon
Half an hour later, Champ will be short odds to strengthen his position at the head of the Stayers Hurdle betting when he tackles just four rivals in the Cleeve.
With Klassical Dream running poorly on Thursday, Champ ascended to favouritism for the staying feature in six weeks and a repeat of his Long Walk Hurdle success at a track he enjoys would surely be enough to see him supplement that Grade One victory.
Meanwhile, former Newmarket trainer Mick Ryan, who saddled Katies to win the Irish 1,000 Guineas in 1984, died on Thursday night aged 80.