Monday 19 March 2018

Grandouet poised for Champion tilt despite alarming market drift

GRANDOUET remains on course for the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday despite taking an alarming drift on the betting exchanges on Friday afternoon.

The six-year-old was forced out of the Grade One contest 12 months ago through injury, but made a pleasing return to action in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December.

He has not been seen in competitive action since and did suffer a minor training setback around a month ago.

Grandouet was a significant drifter in the Champion Hurdle market on Betfair, with his price matched at 40-1 before stabilising, but Henderson did not report any problems after his charge worked in company with fellow Festival-bound stablemates this morning.

Speaking at Sandown, Henderson said: "Grandouet worked on the grass in the fog with Une Artiste and River Maigue. They went a good gallop and it was all good.

"AP (McCoy) was also down, he rode Binocular, and Barry (Geraghty) schooled Simonsig and Riverside Theatre. They've virtually finished everything now."

Henderson did, however, raise doubts about last year's winner Finian's Rainbow defending his crown in the Queen Mother Champion Chase on rain-softened ground.

The master of Seven Barrows has the red-hot favourite for the two-mile championship in the shape of Sprinter Sacre.

Henderson said: "AP sat on Finian's, as he would ride him if he ran in the Champion.

"But there are a lot of options and I have to talk to Michael Buckley as no-one wants to see a past champion beaten in humiliating circumstances."

Press Association

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