Nicky Henderson: Greatwood favourite Jenkins poorly handicapped

Mon 13 Nov 2017

By Geoffrey Riddle at Kempton

Nicky Henderson maintains that Unibet Greatwood Hurdle favourite Jenkins is poorly handicapped ahead of Sunday’s contest at Cheltenham.

Henderson confirmed on Monday that the five-year-old was a ‘definite intended’ runner in the 2m 87y contest and the son of Derby winner Azamour was cut by bookmakers throughout the afternoon.

Jenkins, who has started odds-on in four of his five starts, is now a best-priced 6-1, having been as big as 10-1 in the morning, and is short as 9-2 in a few places. Last season’s Triumph Hurdle hero Defi Du Seuil, who was also among the 23 runners who went forward at the five-day stage, is no better than William Hill's 7-1.

Jenkins hammered Monday's Kempton winner Bags Groove at Newbury on his first start last season and then was fourth to Elgin before winning at Ffos Las in April.

He gets in off a handicap mark of 137, and will bid to deliver a first win in the race for the master of Seven Barrows.

“He was awful that day when he beat Bags Groove,” Henderson said at a press conference at Kempton on Monday.

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“He was awful the whole way through. He couldn’t jump a hurdle and he didn’t jump one at Newbury. His work was rubbish. He was horrible at Newbury, came here and was terrible and then fell in to one at Ffos Las in the most appalling race you’ve ever seen in your life and somehow ended up on 137.

“Where in the world he got that from – he’s not 127 if you tried. He is handicapped on his reputation as a bumper horse not on what he has achieved.”

Jenkins has yet to be seen this season, but Henderson revealed he has undergone a transformation on the gallops at Lambourn from the ponderous jumper of last season.

“He is a completely different horse – he wants to jump this year and wants to work,” the trainer added.

“If he is back to what he was as a bumper horse he will be very good. We’ll see what happens.”

Defi Du Seuil is unbeaten in seven starts over hurdles and will spearhead a potential four-pronged attack for owner JP McManus.

The four-year-old, trained by Philip Hobbs, won all his starts last season, with four of them coming at Cheltenham.

"He's in good form and Philip is happy with him. He's going to run on Sunday," said McManus' racing manager Frank Berry.

McManus also has the Joseph O'Brien-trained pair of Ivanovich Gorbatov and Tigris River, and John Quinn's Project Bluebook.

Berry confirmed: "All four are intended runners at the minute."

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Defi Du Seuil has just Nigel Twiston-Davies' grand campaigner The New One ahead of him in the weights as he bids to continue his winning streak.

Old Guard, the winner in 2015, will be ridden by Bryony Frost, who enjoyed the biggest success of her professional career on Saturday when she claimed the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton aboard Present Man.

The six-year-old found the winner’s enclosure for the first time in a year last time at Kempton and Nicholls believes his charge is back to the sort of form that results in a victory in this race two seasons ago before a win in the International Hurdle a month later. A wind operation in the summer, has clearly helped.

"Old Guard will run and he will like the dry week. Bryony will ride him. With her 5lb off, he ends up with 10st 7lb, which is a real racing weight for him."

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Nicholls will also be represented by Amour De Nuit.

The Ditcheat handler added: "Amour De Nuit won a Listed novice hurdle at Kempton and was a good Flat horse. He has just kept improving."

Harry Fry is likely to run Misterton, who made a winning reappearance at Chepstow last month.

"He won nicely at Chepstow in October and the form has been franked with the fourth Elgin winning at Ascot," said Fry.

"It will just be interesting to see if The New One is still in there and goes as we will be 1lb out the handicap."

Ian Williams has let Elite Hurdle scorer London Prize stand his ground, while Chesterfield and Mohaayed are also in contention.

Tom Mullins is another trainer who is also double-handed with Grand Partner and Top Othe Ra, while Tony Martin's Golden Spear and Veinard from Gordon Elliott's stable are other Irish possibles.

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