Horse RacingJump Racing

Nicky Henderson: “I am quite confident Mister Fisher can run a massive race”

April 12, 2019

I'M up at Ayr for my annual pilgrimage to Scotland for what is always a great meeting and usually run on good ground so we’ve got plenty of runners representing @sevenbarrows.

Aintree went well, we managed to secure a couple of winners which was great and I thought Pentland Hills and Champ were both excellent. Despite it being a slowly run race, at least we know that Champ stays three miles and we will put him away for the season now and bring him back to go Novice chasing. He is clearly a very exciting prospect. Pentland Hills has turned out to be a real star and it’s amazing to think he’d never even jumped a hurdle until February but has won three races all in the space of six weeks and proved he can handle all types of ground and different track as well so there is lots to look forward to with him. The temptation is to try and run him on the flat as he’s only rated 73  but he wouldn’t even get in to any of those big races as the Handicapper isn’t allowed to move their mark despite what they’ve achieved over hurdles, so we’ll put him away for the summer although I wouldn’t rule out finding a prep race somewhere on the flat in the autumn before going back hurdling where he’ll be campaigned like a proper horse and who knows we may have another Unibet Champion Hurdler on our hands.

Funnily enough I tried to enter Punjabi in a flat race after he’d finished third in the Champion Hurdle and won the G1 at Punchestown because he was rated about 77 on the level and when I went to enter him the handicapper had jumped him up about 20lbs so I called him and said “you can’t do that” and he replied “I most certainly can, I can’t let the a G1 hurdles winner run of 77” then I responded “well I’m afraid you’re going to have to” but he still disagreed so I went to the senior handicapper to appeal it and he agreed: “Mr Henderson is correct!” So we took him off to Newmarket and Punjabi won by about a length which was great but the only person I felt sorry for was Mr Cumani who finished second and his horse went up 18lbs, so you can imagine what he thought of that!

Speaking of Champion Hurdlers, we’ll probably have a strong team heading to Punchestown including Buveur D’Air who could easily go if the ground is good enough. I don’t think there were any real excuses for his Aintree defeat although I’m no sure he’s really been playing to his A game this season and maybe the fall by Melon didn’t do him any favours and put him off his stride for a while but I’m not using that as an excuse so we’ll crack on with him as he’s not getting any younger. Champagne Platinum is a big possibility for the G1 two mile Novice Hurdle and is in great form. He was forced to miss Cheltenham due to a small set back but his work has been excellent and he’s a very good horse. Fusil Raffles will go for the 4-y-o Hurdle and I’m going to let Chantry House have a run over hurdles because it’s a new season by the time Punchestown comes along so he’ll remain a novice but it will do him good to have a run over timber then he can go on his holidays at Martinstown.

I will be at Cheltenham next week but not just for their racing as I’m managing the Unibet XI team who are involved in a charity football match against AP McCoy’s XI side in aid of the Injured Jockeys’ Fund at Cheltenham Town on Wednesday. It all kicks off at 7:30 and Nico, Fergal O’Brien, Luke Morris and Paddy Brennan are some of the guys flying the flag. It’s sure to be a great night and there will be an auction with some fantastic prizes including exclusive stable tours to us at Seven Barrows and fellow Unibet ambassador Richard Hannon’s. Tickets are only a tenner and all proceeds go to their IJF.

I was sad to hear that Grech and Parkin have decided to dissolve their partnership and that there will be a dispersal all of their horses at Doncaster in May. Mike and Stuart are great guys and we’ve had some tremendous fun together over the past four or five years with some very good horses, which they still have. Claimantakinforgan was perhaps the horse that really got away as I had high hopes for him this season but sadly he picked up an injury at Cheltenham. Hopefully we’ll still see them about the place and I wish them both the very best of luck in the future.

 

SATURDAY

 

AYR

 

2:25 Scottish Champion Hurdle

Mister Fisher (Nico de Boinville)

He’s at the opposite end of the scale compared to our other two runners in the fact he’s a novice taking on experienced horses but Claimantakinforgan was second in this race last year as a novice so I think you can do it in this type of race. Mister Fisher is a very smart horse and I am quite confident he can run a massive race.

Verdana Blue (Connor Brace)

She’s been very busy this season and I had to pull her out of Aintree last week due to all the rain they had but she’s back on her own ground here and we’re claiming off her as well which will help. We’ve been everywhere with her this year, flat, hurdles, All Weather, you name it and she’s done it, but we’ve always said we’d bring her up here as the ground is usually pretty good and I’m sure she’ll run a good race, but this is the end of quite a long season.

Brain Power (Aidan Coleman)

He’s got top weight and petered out of the Unibet Champion Hurdle a bit, but he’ll like this ground and I think he’ll appreciate the flatter track too.

 

3:00 G2 Novices Chase

Lough Derg Spirit (James Bowen)

He has to have this ground as it was way too soft for him in the Close Brothers at Cheltenham last time but he’s been in good form since and this trip is ideal. The cheek pieces keep him sharp and he will run a good race.

Monbeg Legend (Nico de Boinville)

He’s been off for quite a time but is in very good form and working particularly well. He’ll like the ground and I think he would have a big chance, yes.

 

3:35 Scottish Grand National

Beware The Bear (Jerry McGrath) – NON RUNNER

Giving weight all round won’t be easy and the Handicapper has caught up with him which is to be expected judged on what he’s done this season. I think the blinkers have really been the making of him and Jerry gets on very well with him. Despite winning from the front on New Year’s Day, we rode him less aggressively in the Ultima at Cheltenham which seemed to help as he was able to get into his own rhythm and come with a wet sail when he was ready. This is obviously a tighter track but we’ll give him plenty of time to settle into the race so don’t expect to see him near the front too early – just getting there on the line will be fine!

 Unibet are paying SIX PLACES in the Scottish National

 

4:10

Colonial Dreams (Nico de Boinville)

He was rather disappointing at Taunton last time but we know he's better than that. We've given him a break just to freshen him up and he should love the good ground. It looks quite a good race but I'd be hopeful our fellow will put up a good show.

 

5:20 Bumper

O’Connell Street (Nico de Boinville)

He is a lovely big horse by Fame And Glory who was second on debut at Market Rasen but I hope the ground doesn’t dry out too much by tomorrow evening as he needs plenty of cut. We’ve got a good record in the race with the likes of William Henry, Pym and Sprinter Sacre winning it and I’d say this horse is about 70% as good as they were at this stage in their careers.

 

BANGOR

 

5:05

Keen On (Lorcan Williams)

I wanted to run him on Thursday but the ground got too quick so I pulled him out and I hope the same doesn’t apply here. He’s been ready to go for a while and I want to get a run into him for experience before putting him away for the summer.

 

5:40

Son Of Camas (Richard Patrick)

He’s a very nice horse and I am half looking at taking him over to Punchestown for the Goffs Land Rover Bumper so I’m trying to get a run into him here if we are even going to consider about going over to Ireland. I’ve been very happy with his work and I think he’s quite nice.

 

SUNDAY

 

WINCANTON

 

1:50 Novices’ Hurdle

Heatstroke (Nico de Boinville)

We left the tongue tie off at Kempton last time so won’t make the same mistake again here. The good ground around there will suit and I don’t think he’ll be far away.

 

3:00 Handicap Chase

Turtle Wars (Nico de Boinville)

He’s a bit in and out but Nico was keen to try him over two and a half and let him bowl along so that’s what we’re doing. It looks a competitive little race actually but the prize money is good and I hope he can go well.

 

5:10

Mr Woody (Nico de Boinville)

He’s had a couple of runs and will be going Novice hurdling next season but it make sense to give him one more run before putting him away. He’s taking on a few previous winners here which will make his task quite tricky so I couldn’t be overly confident.

 

STRATFORD

 

3:10 Handicap Chase

The Bottom Bar (Daryl Jacob)

This is the most bizarre race of the day and I was just saying to Anthony Bromley if you re-wrote the conditions of the race it should say ‘for four year olds and upwards that are completely out of form and must be entered at Doncaster Sales!’ because you can’t have won a race for a year, you have to have been placed in a handicap steeplechase in the last 12 months and that’s about all you’re allowed to do so it’s the same for absolutely everyone whose horses have been performing uselessly! But perhaps this horse could be an apt winner as we really are at the bottom of the bar!