Nicky Henderson Talks Through His Stars Plans After Successful Newbury Gallops

Nicky Henderson

Nicky Henderson sent many of his superstars over to Newbury on Tuesday morning to give the horses a good bit of prep ahead of their intended targets in the coming weeks and he was over the moon with how they all looked.

Henderson has not made the most electric start to the season in comparison to Paul Nicholls, but it seems he is just about to really ramp things up and release his big guns for the first time this term.

Altior was one of the star names on show with the 10 year old doing a piece of work next to Champion Hurdle winner Epatante and Henderson has explained that serial winner will start his campaign off in the Tingle Creek at Sandown next week.

The four time Cheltenham festival winner seemed to be in good order when breezing up next to the JP McManus owned mare and although Nico De Boinville rode him more vigorously than his counterpart, it will do him the world of goo to blow the cobwebs away ahead of his return in Saturday week.

Henderson believes that the veteran can put his stop start injury problems behind him that stopped him running in the Champion Chase in March and give some strong performances in what looks to be his final season on the track.

The Seven Barrows handler was also very pleased with his dual Grade One winning Hurdler Epatante and has named the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle as her most likely starting point.

Henderson said on Racing TV: "Nico was delighted with him. He's not a natural lead horse, but when you've got someone like Epatante, there's nothing else that can lead.

"They had to go together and both did it very nicely. He's got a week extra to prepare than Epatante, but as we know a week is a long time in racing and is another week for something to go wrong!

"It was exactly what they needed. This was more of an away-day rather than an actual gallop, but I did want them to do a fair bit. It's really to light the candle in them. They've done work at home and sometimes they get bored of that, so it's a day out, they enjoy it and a bit of competition and atmosphere comes into it."

Last year's second in the Gold Cup, Santini was also out at Newbury and was ridden along in the final furlong under Nico De Boinville and seems spot on for his return at Aintree in the Many Clouds Chase after Henderson pulled him out of the Betfair Chase this week.

"We have always been a bit uphill with him. He's a very laid back character and you could see that today," he added. "I would have loved to jump some fences with him, but we didn't plan to. He's rather like Altior, there's nothing like fences to light them both up. I'm looking at the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree for him.

"There are few opportunities for him because Haydock was never going to be a track I would have chosen for him, and nor is Kempton. The Cotswold Chase comes into consideration for him, but Champ is sitting at home waiting to come out and I don't think Kempton is for him either. There's a definite opportunity that Champ heads to Ireland over Christmas. We don't want them meeting on the way before Cheltenham.

"There's only one race that's at the front of my mind with Santini and that's to try and go one better in the Gold Cup. He ran such a great race in it last season, so you've got to try with him again. That's the only objective we have."