Fusil Raffles set Punchestown task as Henderson seeks remarkable hat-trick
Nicky Henderson is ready to unleash exciting Adonis Hurdle winner Fusil Raffles at Punchestown as he eyes an unprecedented clean sweep of the three big spring juvenile races.
Pentland Hills landed the Anniversary Hurdle for the yard at Aintree last week to add to his Triumph Hurdle success at Cheltenham, and now Henderson is set to turn to Fusil Raffles in a bid complete a hat-trick yet to be achieved by one trainer.
On his first start for Henderson in February, Fusil Raffles landed Kempton's Grade 2 Adonis Hurdle in comfortable fashion, causing him to shorten into 9-2 for the Triumph.
A cut leg at Kempton forced him to miss Cheltenham and Aintree, but having recovered he will feature at Punchestown in the Grade 1 AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle on May 4.
The exciting prospect for Simon Munir and Isaac Souede will form part of a powerful Seven Barrows team, set to include the five-year-old Champagne Platinum. JP McManus's novice hurdler is unbeaten in two starts since he joined Henderson but has not yet raced in 2019.
The five-time champion trainer said on Tuesday: "I think we will have quite a lot of runners at Punchestown this year. The principals will be Fusil Raffles and Champagne Platinum, who will go to one of the Grade 1 novice hurdles.
"I am very much looking forward to seeing Fusil Raffles, he won the Adonis and he will run in the Grade 1 juvenile race. I thought he was very impressive at Kempton but it was a horrible cut he had so we couldn't run him again. He has come on well and did some good work this morning."
A decision has yet to be made on whether two-time Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D'Air will feature at Punchestown. The eight-year-old fell in the Champion Hurdle before finishing second to Supasundae in the Aintree Hurdle.
Other than two French starts at the beginning of his career, Buveur D'Air has never raced outside Britain, but could feature in the Betdaq Champion Hurdle on May 3.
The trainer said: "He has come back fine after Aintree and we're happy with him. We might enter him at Punchestown for the Champion Hurdle back over two miles. Nothing is decided yet, it will depend on what the ground is going to be like."
The stable enjoyed two winners at Aintree last week courtesy of Pentland Hills and Champ, but neither will feature at Punchestown.
Henderson said: "Pentland Hills and Champ have both come back fine but they are finished for the season now.
"Altior is in very good form and he is coming on well. The plan is to take him to Sandown [for the Celebration Chase, April 27]. Santini will not run again this season."
Kemboy favourite for Punchestown Gold Cup
Betfair Sportsbook have installed last week's Betway Bowl winner Kemboy as the 13-8 favourite for what could be a classic renewal of the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup on May 1.
Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo is priced at 7-4, while Irish Gold Cup winner Bellshill is a 5-1 shot.
Bristol De Mai, the sole British-trained runner to appear in the market, is a 16-1 chance.
Punchestown Gold Cup, Betfair odds: 13-8 Kemboy, 7-4 Al Boum Photo, 5-1 Bellshill, 14-1 Total Recall, 16-1 Anibale Fly, 16-1 Bristol De Mai, 16-1 Shattered Love, 20-1 Road To Respect, 25-1 Sub Lieutenant.
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