Sign Of A Victory: connections are keen on running in the Betfair HurdlePICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Henderson plots strong raid on Betfair Hurdle
NICKY HENDERSON could have as many as four runners in the Betfair Hurdle as he bids to extend his impressive record in the £155,000 handicap at Newbury.
The February 7 contest is rubber-stamped on the agendas of Sign Of A Victory and Vasco Du Ronceray and the Seven Barrows battalion might be doubled in size with Snake Eyes and Dawalan also being considered.
With five victories to his name, Henderson is the most successful trainer in the race's history and appears to hold strongest claims of more glory with Sign Of A Victory, who finished a well-beaten fourth in last month's williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle last month.
The trainer, who most recently won the Betfair Hurdle two years ago with My Tent Or Yours, said: "Sign Of A Victory is a better horse on good ground but we're pretty keen on running him in the Betfair Hurdle as there is nothing else before Cheltenham and what is he going to run in at Cheltenham?
"I cannot believe you saw him at his very best at Kempton - he wasn't going to beat the winner Faugheen in a million years but he should have been second.
"He just didn't get home after travelling well. I know it was soft but I think he can be a bit sharper than that. He is getting stronger and more able to cope with soft ground.
"He would have to run an incredible race in the Betfair Hurdle to go for the Champion Hurdle.
Of his other confirmed contender Vasco Du Ronceray, Henderson added: "He has always looked like he would be all right but things did not just go his way last season and we had a few issues.
"He was good first time out this season in November and then he went a bit quiet on us but for the last three weeks he has been in very good form.
"He is sharp enough, will handle the ground and he would have a realistic chance."
Snake Eyes, who at 14-1 is the same price as Sign Of A Victory, appears in 43rd place on the entry list and is not guaranteed a starting berth in the maximum 24-runner field
"He's on the shortlist but the question is whether he will get in the race. He went to Ireland the other day and ran well for a long way. We could be tempted if it looked like he could get in."
Dawalan has a choice of two targets, with the other option at Musselburgh on Sunday.
"He will only run in the Betfair Hurdle if he does not go to Musselburgh for a three-mile race on Sunday when the idea is to get him Pertemps qualified.
"We had his wind done in the summer and he is a better horse on good ground because of his breathing. He is working very, very well at the moment and seems in terrific form."
Newbury announced on Wednesday that frost covers will be deployed in advance of next Saturday’s card.