Nicky Henderson ran the rule over the pick of his Cheltenham Festival team on Monday
Last Updated: February 18, 2013 4:20pm
Nicky Henderson and Sprinter Sacre
Nicky Henderson might publicly admit he does not expect to match last year's phenomenal haul of seven Cheltenham Festival winners, but a team of at least 35 from his Lambourn stable will be out doing their best.
"What happened last year is unrepeatable. Maybe Paul (Nicholls) or Willie Mullins will have seven, but it has happened once to us, so it won't happen again," said the Festival's all-time leading trainer.
"You would settle for one - anything that comes your way is gratefully received. The best thing is if you can find one winner on the opening day. It doesn't make the horses run faster but it gives everyone confidence."
Henderson, who had opened his stable for a media morning on Monday, became practically doe-eyed when asked to pose with the Sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase-bound Sprinter Sacre, who has hardly been tested in seven starts over fences.
"Simonsig and Sprinter Sacre are two of the best work horses I've ever seen," Henderson said.
"I think he (Sprinter Sacre) is as good looking a horse as you'll ever see. Bobs Worth is no oil painting, he's just a nice horse, but with Sprinter Sacre it's a different ball game.
"He has a lot of natural talent and it's just easy for him. We won't be complacent, but he loves doing it. If you enjoy what you are doing, you can do it well."
While Simonsig, hot favourite to follow in Sprinter Sacre's footsteps by taking the Arkle Trophy, could be joined by his stablemate in having a preparatory schooling session with the renowned Yogi Breisner, a handful of the other leading lights are to have a racecourse gallop at Kempton on Saturday.
These include the Gold Cup hopes Long Run and Bobs Worth, who have not appeared in recent trials, as well as Triumph Hurdle prospect Rolling Star.
Defending Ryanair champion Riverside Theatre - back after being diagnosed with ulcers - and Binocular, the former Champion Hurdle winner, are others who will have a spin on the turf.
After managing a one-two in the race named after his father, the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase, the trainer named his five probable runners as Tanks For That, Anquetta, French Opera, Petit Robin and Kid Cassidy.
Virtually all the team have competed their racing trials ahead of Cheltenham, one or two handicappers aside, but Saturday could see last-ditch Triumph auditions for Vasco Du Ronceray and Courtesy Call.
A decision on whether yet another smart novice, Chatterbox, heads to Cheltenham has not been made.