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Henderson trio set triumph poser

Nicky Henderson is out to improve his already impressive record in Friday's JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival with three live chances.

Henderson has won the juvenile championship five times, which is more than any other trainer.

First Bout got him off the mark in 1985, followed by Alone Success two years later.

Katarino won in 1999 while Zaynar and Soldatino have claimed the last two renewals for the Seven Barrows maestro.

This year the ante-post favourite Grandouet (Barry Geraghty), the speedy mare A Media Luz (Tony McCoy) and the inexperienced Molotof (Andrew Tinkler) will all go to post with claims.

"Grandouet has been beaten by Sam Winner but looks to have been improving all the way through and everything has gone well," said Henderson.

"We were tempted to have another run but there was a feeling he didn't need experience and he's very professional.

"A Media Luz blew her cover for the Fred Winter at Huntingdon but is a very good filly and gets 7lb here as a sex allowance.

"She actually won a Group Three on the Flat and was sixth in the French Oaks so she's pretty useful.

"Molotof had to have a third run for the Fred Winter but he got thumped by the handicapper for finishing second to Zarkandar.

"I don't think he's in the same class as the other two."

Paul Nicholls is another trainer with three runners.

Earlier in the season his Sam Winner was carrying all before him but after getting bogged down in the mud at Chepstow he seems to have become the forgotten horse.

However, with Ruby Walsh in the saddle there is a new momentum behind him.

"If Sam Winner hadn't run at Chepstow he'd have probably been favourite - it was really bad ground that day and I put a line through it. But he's been to Cheltenham twice and won twice," said Nicholls.

Zarkandar burst onto the scene when winning at Kempton just three weeks ago and that has been his only visit to a racecourse in Britain.

However, the potential of the half-brother to Arc winner Zarkava is there for all to see.

Nicholls will also be represented by Brampour, another French import who looked sharp winning at Taunton in February.

"Zarkandar was dead impressive at Kempton, he surprised me and has improved enormously in jumping, and everything about him. But he's going to Cheltenham off only one run on a flat track so you've got to bear that in mind," added Nicholls.

"Brampour is a hard little horse who won at Taunton the other day, and he has improved enormously.

"He'll like the hurly-burly and the better ground and has worked really well.

"It's a tough race and a job to pinpoint them."

Colin and Joe Tizzard suffered disappointment earlier in the week when Cue Card could only finish fourth in the Supreme, but in Third Intention they have another good chance.

"He's a lovely young horse and the ground should be much better than it was at Haydock," said Tizzard.

"He has form on a better surface and if he runs his race, he shouldn't be far away.

"He ran well at Cheltenham the time before last, he just didn't get up the hill, but I think he's an improving horse.

"His last run was his best run in my mind and if he improves again he'd have a chance."

Tim Vaughan is also hopeful for his pair, Architrave and First Fandango, in what looks an open renewal.

"I couldn't be happier with them," said the Vale of Glamorgan trainer.

"Architrave obviously lost his way last time at Cheltenham but he had a trachea wash and it was dirty.

"He was found to have a bit of mucus.

"This is his first run since and he's just starting to come back to form now and hopefully he can run a big race.

"First Fandango has had a lovely, clean preparation and we're just putting a pair of visors on him just to sharpen and focus his mind.

"They are both in great nick and hopefully they will relish the conditions."

@Press Association