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Henderson can't see any obstacle to Gold

NICKY HENDERSON feels he has not spotted an exceptional rival from another stable to prevent him from lifting the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup once again.

While re-iterating that "I don't think anything has ever changed" with Long Run, the 2011 winner who was back to form with a second King George VI Chase at Kempton on Stephen's Day, the focus is very much on his ante-post favourite Bobs Worth.

Successful on his previous visit to Prestbury Park in last year's RSA Chase, Bobs Worth has appeared just once this season when beating Tidal Bay in the Hennessy Gold Cup.

Just 3-1 with the sponsors, the eight-year-old missed a preparatory outing in last month's Argento at Cheltenham when Henderson was not quite happy with him.

 

Run

"We would have liked another run, but that doesn't mean we can't do it," Henderson said.

"He was fresh in the Hennessy, and he'll be straighter than he was then. He lacks experience but he loves Cheltenham. There's work to do, but he's on schedule.

"This is where we we will find out where he is and what he is. He hasn't reached the superstar status that Sprinter Sacre has done yet, but he hasn't had the opportunity to do so."

Referring to his opponents, Henderson said: "It's very wide open and I don't think we've seen a standout horse.

"You wouldn't say Silviniaco Conti was earth-shatteringly impressive at Newbury but it was a very satisfactory trial I'm sure.

"There has been nothing that has come out this season that you would say 'look at that'. Bobs Worth and Long Run have as good a chance as any."

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.

These include virtually all of his returning heroes, such as Sprinter Sacre, Bobs Worth, Simonsig and Riverside Theatre as well as Long Run, which explains why Henderson is long odds-on to be top trainer.

 

Unrepeatable

"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."

If betting is taken literally, that one winner will surely be Sprinter Sacre, who could be sent off the hottest favourite at the fixture since Arkle won the 1966 Gold Cup.

Henderson, who had opened his stable for a media morning yesterday, became practically doe-eyed when asked to pose with the Sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase-bound gelding, 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."


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