Horse RacingJump Racing

Nicky Henderson: “Santini loves racing so we’re here to have a crack but Cyrname looks the one to beat”

December 24, 2020January 7th, 2022

IT HAS been a very strange year for all of us and let’s hope things can eventually get back to some sort of normality in the spring but the good news is that Christmas still goes ahead, albeit not in quite the way we are used to, but at least the fun of the fare at Kempton continues and while it is still so sad that crowds aren’t able to attend, with a bit of luck the horses will still put on a great show and spread some festive cheer at a very difficult time.

Our horses have been running well and we enjoyed a particularly good day at Ascot last Friday. Allart was undoubtedly the star of the afternoon and it’s very rare for me to introduce a horse to fences at Ascot, let alone in a Grade Two and I always say I’ll never do it again but he’s a horse with an awful amount of talent and hopefully has a very bright future.

He made a few mistakes but very quickly learnt from each one and I thought Nico gave him a great ride. I do think he’s a very good horse and I wanted to try him over a little bit further and Ascot (over that trip) is a good place to start because they begin going uphill and there is plenty of time to recover if you do make a mistake so you don’t frighten them unnecessarily. He has come out of the race in great shape but I haven’t even looked at plotting anything for him next.

Emir Sacree was also very good and Joe Anderson gave him a lovely ride from the front to score in good style. Both horse AND jockey are improving and hopefully have bright futures. I was thinking about going chasing with him but I might step back on that idea and have a look at something like the Pertemps at Cheltenham and then go over fences next year. He’ll stay three miles and loves soft ground.

We did suffer a few disappointments and I’m inclined to bracket Beware The Bear and Caribean Boy together because they both ran at Newbury three weeks prior but the fact Caribean Boy put up an incredible winning time would suggest that he probably had a harder race than we thought and he was never really going last week, along with Beware The Bear whose fate we knew extremely early on. The good news is that they are both absolutely fine but we’ll give them a bit of a break and bring them back in the spring. The Grand National still remains the goal for Beware so he’ll probably have one prep beforehand and there are plenty of nice options for Caribean

Mister Fisher has come out of his win in the Peterborough Chase very well and I’d imagine he’ll probably be given an entry in the G2 Unibet Silviniaco Chase at Kempton on January 9th.

So, we head into Boxing Day 2020 with plenty of runners at Kempton and it would be great to head back to Seven Barrows with a few winners and my thoughts on their chances are below.



12:40 Novices Hurdle

Go Sacre Go (Nico de Boinville)

He’s a big, leggy, lovely horse by Network who is very closely related to Sprinter Sacre but unfortunately he has already had one run in France, of which he pulled up, because he would have been much better off running in a Bumper in the spring so this is very much a fact finding mission. He’s a great big baby who is really for next year but I love him as a horse and he’ll tell us what he’s capable of on Saturday, but this is an extremely big ask first time out.


1:15 Novices Handicap Chase

Son Of Camas (Nico de Boinville)

The plan has always been to go over fences but I thought he was quite well handicapped to win over hurdles at Cheltenham last time but completely draw a line, or even erase it out completely, because we should never have run him on that ground. He’s a big gross horse and was probably always going to take a run anyway so the run around there will have at least done him some good fitness wise. I think he is a very good horse and chasing will be the making of him. Unibet's 15 To Go offer will be live on this race.

Falco Blitz (Jerry McGrath)

I was a little disappointed with him at Ascot last time but he made a terrible mistake and never recovered so I’m happy to move on and hope for a better show here. He’s always shown plenty at home and has done lots and lots of schooling so we’re coming here in very good form and with a bit of luck he can go well. Unibet's 15 To Go offer will be live on this race.


2:25 G1 Christmas Hurdle

Epatante (Aidan Coleman)

All I can say is that everything so far has gone well and she goes there in fantastic form and there’s very little else I can add that you don’t already know. Obviously it’s a horse race and there are hurdles to be jumped so as long as she doesn’t doing anything silly like trip herself up we go into the race very confident. 

Floressa (Jerry McGrath)

It was very much the owners decision to run her, but why not? I have absolutely no qualms whatsoever and she won’t have any issues with the track. She wants further so the soft ground should ensure stamina comes into play and while she isn’t good enough to beat Epatante on all known form it’s a small field so she should be very capable of picking up some Black Type. If no one else wants to make the running I see no reason why Jerry won’t go out and make it again if he has to. Unibet's 15 To Go offer will be live on this race.


3:00 G1 King George VI Chase

Santini (Nico de Boinville)

I have said that Kempton isn’t his track, and I still stand by that but there are only a certain amount of races for these type of horses because there is nothing really until the Cotswold Chase on January 30th. He is a horse that absolutely thrives on his work, jumping, galloping and racing, in fact the more you do the merrier, so after discussing it with Richard and Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes we came to the conclusion that we might as well have a crack at it and see what happens. We schooled him on Wednesday morning and he was as sharp as you could wish for so it makes sense to get him out and, yes, he’s got to be sharper than he was at Aintree, but as you know he is never at his best first time out and if the emphasis is on stamina because of the ground, (which is softening all the time) that will obviously play to his strengths.

It’s a fantastic race and with regards to who I think will win, if I was given the choice of training one on the actual day it would definitely be Cyrname. He took a long time to get over his battle with Altior last season but looked very good at Wetherby in the Charlie Hall where seemed back to his brilliant best so I’ll be surprised if he isn’t capable of winning. Unibet's 15 To Go offer will be live on this race.


3:35 Handicap Hurdle

They can’t all win but there are all entitled to run and all have chances in some shape or form.

Monte Cristo (Daryl Jacob)

He’s had his issues and we train him a little differently to some of the others, but he worked very well on Monday and he’s got bags of potential. I’ve always thought he would make into a lovely horse. 

Rathhill (Aidan Coleman)

He ran well on his first run back at Newbury and is a very talented horse. Things haven’t gone his way all of the time but I still believe there is a nice prize in him and with a bit of luck he can run another nice race here.

Barbados Blue (Nico de Boinville)

I know she’s had quite a lot of time off but she’s been doing plenty of work and was in training last season and all ready to run in the Spring but Covid put the kibosh on that so it’s not as if she’s been standing in a field eating grass for the last 18 months. I’ve been very happy with her at home and think she has a very, very good chance off her mark.