Nicky Henderson outlines plans for star team of novice chasers
Tuesday 10 January 2017
By RacingUk.com staff
Buveur D'Air is set to step up in distance in the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown next month.
Third behind esteemed stable companion Altior and Irish star Min in last season's Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham, Buveur D'Air enjoyed his day in the sun at Aintree.
Having been snapped up by leading owner JP McManus during the off-season, the six-year-old made an impressive start to his career over fences at Haydock in mid-December and followed up in workmanlike fashion at Warwick on New Year's Eve.
With Altior appearing the dominant force in the two-mile novice chasing division in Britain this term, trainer Nicky Henderson is keen to split his aces and will test the water over two and a half miles with Buveur D'Air at Sandown on February 4.
He said: "I think Buveur D'Air is probably going to go to the Scilly Isles at Sandown and (we can) have a look at him over two and a half (miles).
"We always thought last year over hurdles we were nearly ready to up him to two-and-a-half. I was going to at Aintree, except for the two-mile race looked easier and we went for that.
"The Scilly Isles will tell us whether he can come into the JLT (Novices' Chase)."
Altior, who is heading for the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury, and Buveur D'Air spearhead a formidable team of novice chasers housed at Seven Barrows.
Top Notch has won his last three starts over fences, completing his hat-trick at Ascot last month.
"Top Notch has done very well, but he isn't a very big person," Henderson told At The Races.
"Every time he's run, his jumping has got better and better. He's had a great start, he's loved it and his confidence has grown.
"I'm not sure which side of the fence he'll slot into."
Grade One-winning hurdler Whisper has been in resurgent form this season, winning twice over fences at Cheltenham.
"I would think JLT rather than RSA for him," said his trainer.
Josses Hill was supplemented for the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day following an impressive display in Huntingdon's Peterborough Chase.
The nine-year-old finished last of five runners, albeit beaten only seven lengths by Thistlecrack, and is now set for a break.
Henderson said: "I've seen him better than that, I must admit.
"I don't think he was as slick as he was at Huntingdon, where he was exemplary.
"We're going to freshen up and hopefully come back for the Ryanair Chase."