Nicky Henderson moves operations up from first to third gear with a number of well-fancied runners on Saturday.
- Related Content
Odds-on to wrest the trainers' championship title from Paul Nicholls this season, Henderson has been steadily and regularly among the winners in recent weeks without really firing any of the big guns, but the rate of success should start to pick up from here on.
My Tent Or Yours has been known to take a bit of a grip, but if his rider can get him settled he is a strong fancy to score first time over hurdles at Ascot. He was among the very best of the stable's bumper team last season and his schooling is said to have gone particularly well.
Hadrian's Approach is another expected to run particularly well in the preceding contest. Henderson has always rated this horse highly and after he encountered a problem last season, the decision was taken to give him the rest of the campaign off. That patient policy could pay dividends this season and he is another whose pre-season schooling has gone highly successfully.
While Henderson has an embarrassment of riches in his yard, Lambourn neighbour Oliver Sherwood is in need of a good horse and his Puffin Billy, mentioned on this page recently, returns to action in the bumper at the end of the card. This horse moves like a good'un but faces some potentially smart rivals.
Doctor David is worth nothing on his debut for Alan McCabe in the previous two-mile handicap chase.
Part-owner Andrew Reid packed up training earlier this year, sending the whole of his team north to join McCabe and nearly all found some improvement for the switch. Evidently, Reid was impressed enough to transfer this horse too.
Doctor David only made it to the track once last season for Lawney Hill, but has some smart form in the book in this kind of contest and it wouldn't be the biggest surprise for McCabe to have him fully tuned-up for this return.
Alan King has got more work into his team than most of his big-name rivals and the easy victory of Bless The Wings at Wetherby on Friday confirmed that King is a trainer out to get to among the winners before other stables are fully into swing.
His Smad Place is going to take a great deal of beating up at Wetherby in the John Smith's Hurdle, as he will not have lack of fitness as an excuse.
Sir Henry Cecil must say goodbye to Frankel in the days ahead, as the superstar moves to his new home at stud down the road, but he continues to please doctors with his response to the latest session of chemotherapy treatment and may yet enjoy a final hurrah before the end of the season with First Mohican. The lightly-raced gelding, a smart winner at Nottingham last month, is being considered for next Saturday's November Handicap and was spotted blowing out in a solo spin down the Al Bahathri in the week.
Also being trained with that race in mind are the Ed Dunlop-trained pair, Voodoo Prince and Homeric, who worked together down the Al Bahathri on Friday morning.
Activity in Headquarters has understandably reduced considerably in the last few weeks, although the town is hopeful of landing big international prizes with The Fugue (Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf) and Mount Athos (Melbourne Cup) in the days ahead. William Buick has been particularly positive about the prospects of the former, telling friends that the filly can't be beaten.
But the increased sense of peace and quiet on the gallops has enabled some of the town's lesser trainers to get in on the act and it was interesting to spot Jamie Spencer blowing out a couple for Don Cantillon the other day. Sir Alex Ferguson's grey Green To Gold was one of them. It will be interesting to see where he turns up next.