Henderson team target Cheltenham return for Oscar Whisky
Oscar Whisky will attempt to break his duck over fences tomorrow when he returns to Cheltenham for his second appearance over the larger obstacles.
Nicky Henderson's top-class hurdler made his chasing debut at Prestbury Park last month, but Barry Geraghty's mount was narrowly beaten by Taquin Du Seuil in a race run at a sedate pace for much of the two-mile-five-furlong journey. Owner Dai Walters is expecting his eight-year-old to strip fitter for the run and hopes there will be more of a gallop in the Ryman Stationery Novices' Chase.
"Hopefully, he'll go back to Cheltenham a week on Friday. That's the plan," said Walters. "We all saw what happened last time – there was no speed at the start of the race. Hopefully, he'll improve for the run."
Walters also had news of star youngster West Wizard, which was turned over as a 1/6 favourite on his recent hurdling debut at Kempton. The highly touted four-year-old was previously ante-post favourite for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and Walters has certainly not given up on him yet.
"He's a big horse and only a four-year-old having his first run over hurdles," said the owner. "I don't think any horse should be 1/6 in that situation. He blew up on the day, but he's still a nice horse and there will be plenty of big days for him to come, I assure you of that. We'll just try to find another race for him shortly."
The first three home in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham – Dell' Arca, Sametegal and Rawnaq – are among 57 entries for the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot.
The sponsors have installed a couple of 12/1 co-favourites, which include Nicky Henderson's Blue Fashion and Rolling Star, plus the Willie Mullins-trained City Slicker and Tony Martin's Quick Jack.
Meanwhile, Eoin Griffin will be praying for rain over the next week or so ahead of Azorian's next run at Navan. The County Kilkenny trainer wants to run the promising five-year-old in the Grade One Navan Novice Hurdle over two and a half miles on December 15, but only if conditions are suitable.
Griffin wants to see more cut in the ground than there was when Azorian was second over the course and distance behind Apache Stronghold in the Grade Two 'Monksfield' Novice Hurdle recently.