Henderson laments lost time
IF the weather turns nasty again this weekend, Nicky Henderson will be a man best avoided.
He has been training for 32 years, never more potently than now, but Henderson hissed like a boiling kettle yesterday as he bemoaned "the worst two months of disruption I've ever known".
The customary buzz in Henderson's office at Seven Barrows was especially manic as morning exercise ended. The trainer himself -- three days into his habitual alcohol-free February -- was looking stressed.
"It's been absolutely chaotic with so many meetings off," he declared. "You get so fed up spending all day planning and phoning people, only to have to start again when meetings are abandoned. It's happened time after time and you really tear your hair out."
As he sits second in the trainers' championship with a strike rate of 31pc, Henderson will attract more envy than sympathy. The exasperation, though, indicates real strength in his 150-horse yard, with pecking orders still confused as Cheltenham looms.
The situation will see Henderson doubling up in many big races over the coming weeks. It will also entail him taking horses beyond their usual orbit in search of suitable opportunities. "I'll send horses wherever it's decent -- we'll have a team going to Doncaster on Saturday and a box-load to Musselburgh on Sunday," he said.
Among the party bound for Scotland is According, the subject of a gamble for the Triumph Hurdle before he has jumped in public. A multiple winner in French Flat races, he is in similar ownership to Champion Hurdle favourite Zaynar -- a syndicate headed by bookmaker Victor Chandler.
Already at single-figure odds for the Triumph, he will make his British debut in the Scottish equivalent but Henderson warned: "I've no idea where the money has come from -- the owners haven't backed it. It may be that the four-year-olds aren't very good but I couldn't say for sure that he is, either."
Mad Max and You're The Top will run at Doncaster, seeking to cement their places in the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy. On a valuable card, Henderson also fields Pepsyrock in the Blue Square Handicap Chase, weakened yesterday when Alan King ruled out Oh Crick.
Henderson will be at Sandown for two crucial rehearsals. Punchestowns runs in the Grade One Challengers Novices' Chase and Binocular -- one of three Champion Hurdle candidates in the yard -- bids to restore a reputation tarnished by two below-par runs.
Binocular will face only a handful of inferior rivals in the Contenders Hurdle and Henderson reckons he has points to prove. Punchestowns will not be taken on by his stablemate Long Run but Henderson believes the clash is still likely to occur at Cheltenham. (© The Times, London)