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Darlan, Tony McCoy, Kempton 26.12.12

Darlan: Christmas Hurdle winner likely to go off favourite in Doncaster trial

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Henderson seeking big performance from Darlan

A MATTER of days after jockey Tony McCoy suggested Darlan needed to step up to challenge his Champion Hurdle rivals, trainer Nicky Henderson has thrown down the gauntlet to his hurdle star as he goes on trial for the Cheltenham Festival at Doncaster today.

The four-runner Listed 32Red Hurdle, which also has attracted last year's Champion Hurdle hero Rock On Ruby and Triumph Hurdle winner Countrywide Flame, has not only given racing fans a marvellous Monday boost, but has also allowed Henderson to get a greatly sought after run into Darlan.

"He has done two bits since the freeze ended and he seems well," said Henderson on Sunday.

"This is a trial but to be competitive in March a horse needs to be running well here. Kempton was a silly race but it might turn out that it was in our favour.

"Everything has gone right for him since and he is quite clean-winded, so he is fit enough to run well."

Darlan is odds on across the boards with Rock On Ruby a general 2-1 shot and Countrywide Flame as big as 6-1.

The ground at Doncaster dried out slightly overnight and is now good to soft, good in places (from good to soft). It is forecast to stay dry, although strong winds are expected throughout the afternoon.

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