Henderson: RSA the sole target for Punchestowns
Nicky Henderson has warned punters that the RSA Chase is the sole Cheltenham target for his exciting prospect Punchestowns.
Last season's World Hurdle runner-up made a pleasing debut over fences at Newbury in November and his trainer now wants to get more experience into his charge.
"Punchestowns was due to go to Cheltenham on New Year's Day and he's in at Warwick this weekend, but he does need a couple of runs before Cheltenham," said Henderson.
"He did everything brilliantly at Newbury and it was a very pleasing debut. Barry (Geraghty) was very good on him as he got him jumping with confidence. I think he's only got one entry (for Cheltenham) and that would be the RSA Chase. I certainly wouldn't be thinking about him for the Arkle."
Another possible for the RSA Chase is stablemate Long Run, a brilliant winner of the Feltham Novices' Chase at Kempton.
The Irish Independent Arkle Trophy is also under consideration for the French import, with Henderson believing he could be a real Cheltenham Gold Cup contender down the line.
"We're not going to switch them around to try and avoid each other as Cheltenham is Cheltenham and every owner is entitled to be there as much as the other," Henderson said. "He is only a five-year-old, has done an enormous amount already and you'd like to think in one or two years' time, Long Run might be able to have a crack at Kauto Star.
"I've no doubt his optimum trip is going to be further than two miles, but does it need to be three (miles)? The Arkle was just an idea I had and it is far from cast in stone what we're going to do. In all probability he'll go for the RSA."
Another of Henderson's smart novice chase brigade is Riverside Theatre, who has the Arkle on his agenda.
"He wasn't far off the top as a novice hurdler but he was always going to mature and was always going to make a chaser. I think he's a genuine two-miler," Henderson said.