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Last Updated: 21/12/12 1:30pm
Nicky Henderson: Saddles four runners in Saturday's Ladbroke
Nicky Henderson is hoping to improve his marvellous record in The Ladbroke at Ascot on Saturday when he will saddle four runners.
The Seven Barrows maestro has landed the huge pot in 2002 with Chauvinist, 2007 with Jack The Giant and 12 months later with Sentry Duty.
Involved in a battle to become champion trainer with Paul Nicholls, Henderson is chasing the massive amount of prize money on offer with Cash And Go, Lyvius, top-weight Petit Robin and First In The Queue.
Stable jockey Barry Geraghty has chosen to ride Cash And Go, a Grade One winner in Ireland for Edward O'Grady.
Useful 5lb conditional Jerry McGrath is on Gerry Feilden winner Lyvius, amateur Nico De Boinville will take 7lb off Petit Robin, who has reverted to hurdles with two wins, and Andrew Tinkler rides First In The Queue.
With the ground set to be as testing as it gets at Ascot, their ability to handle the conditions will be crucial.
"Petit Robin has won on soft ground, Cash and Go has form in soft ground and Lyvius won the Gerry Feilden in soft ground," said Henderson.
"There is nowhere else for them to go, there is huge prize money on offer so we have to let them take their chance.
"Thankfully I have don't have to pick between them. Cash And Go and Lyvius have shown high-class form over hurdles, so we'll see what happens."
If there is one horse in the race with pretensions of being better than a handicapper it could be the Alan King-trained Balder Succes.
The four-year-old was fancied in the Triumph Hurdle and at the Punchestown Festival in the spring, but failed to complete either race.
This season he as run respectably behind Champion Hurdle hope Zarkandar at Wincanton and won well at Haydock.
"On Saturday, we are looking for a big run from Balder Succes in The Ladbroke," King told www.alankingracing.co.uk.
"You need an improving young hurdler to win this competitive race and we got lucky with Raya Star last year but, whereas he went into the race rated 134, Balder Succes is off a mark of 147, so there is no doubt that he has the class.
"Balder Succes' third to Zarkandar in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton last month looks pretty good form after last week's International Hurdle at Cheltenham.
"Our fellow has since won in the soft at Haydock, and I would not swap him for anything."
His jockey Robert Thornton told At The Races: "He's in cracking form.
"His run behind Zarkandar and Prospect Wells at Wincanton looks very good now and he did what we thought he would at Haydock.
"He's been schooling well, he's been working well and he'll improve from Haydock. He's got weight to carry but he likes Ascot and the ground shouldn't be a problem.
"He's got the weight because he deserves it, he's one of the better horses in the race, travels very well so this sort of race should suit."
Ranjaan has been all the rage in recent days for Highclere Thoroughbred Racing and Paul Nicholls.
Forced to miss the Triumph Hurdle in March, this will be his first run since January.
"It's very exciting to be going with a good chance but it looks a very open race," said Harry Herbert, who represent the owners.
"It will be a mighty slog for all concerned on this ground and there are lots of variables, but Paul Nicholls has been very pleased with him.
"He has schooled very well and worked very well and we always thought last year he had the make and shape to be better as he got older. The signs are that he's made significant improvement.
"We are launching him into this and we are being realistic, but we hope he can give a good account of himself.
"His joints were sore last year which is why he's had the time off and Paul has always viewed him as a long-term prospect.
"He hasn't rushed him and since he's come back in he says there are definitely signs he has improved, so on that basis he might be well handicapped.
"As long as he handles the ground he should run well but there has to be a doubt whether they'll race looking at the forecast."
Nicholls told Betfair: "I was going to run him in the Gerry Feilden Hurdle at Newbury, but he wasn't quite ready, so we thought we'd go straight to Ascot and try and get him really fit.
"Hopefully he'll run a big race. The only thing is he is such a big, gross horse and no matter how hard I work him, you just wonder whether he wouldn't improve like last year for a run."
Edward Harty saddles the JP McManus-owned Princeton Plains, who last seen going down by a neck in a valuable handicap at Listowel in September.
Prior to that, the versatile gelding occupied the same position in a handicap on the Flat at Killarney and was sixth in the Galway Hurdle.
Harty said of his six-year-old: "He's got form on bad ground and he's in good nick.
"We've had this race in mind for him for a long time, but mainly because we thought we'd get some decent ground for him. Unfortunately, that won't be the case.
"He does go on the ground, but there is no doubt he's better on a decent surface.
"If they get what's forecast there has to be a doubt whether it will be on.
"We've kept him fresh after Listowel in September hoping for normal Ascot ground, but we're not going to get it."
Olofi was rewarded for his consistent efforts last time out at Cheltenham and trainer Tom George can see no reason why he will not run well again.
"He's in good form and he finally won a big pot last time," said George.
"We know he can handle soft ground, it certainly won't inconvenience him anyway.
"He's risen 8lb in the handicap and was entitled to it, but he's very consistent and we hope he'll run well again."
David Pipe won the race in 2006 with Acambo, which followed on the back of two victories for his father, Martin, through Tamarinbleu and Desert Air.
This year the Pipe runner is Kazlian, fourth in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham in March but a long way behind Olofi and Cash And Go last time out.
"We've had a good run with him since his last effort at Cheltenham," said Pipe.
"He won't mind the ground, he won in very deep ground at Ffos Las last year.
"I think he's got a chance in what looks a very open race.
"He's made the running before but we'll just wait and see what everybody else does."
Nigel Twiston-Davies is another trainer not too worried about conditions for his runner, Double Ross.
"He loves the soft ground, it doesn't inconvenience him but it inconveniences the others," he said.
"He had two quite quick runs together but we've given him a month off to recover and he's fresh again now."