Mullins and Henderson delighted with Champion Hurdle hope Brain Power
David Mullins is counting down the days to the Stan James Champion Hurdle after flying in to partner his big-race mount Brain Power in a gallop before racing at Kempton on Saturday.
Despite being without a ride on the card, Mullins was eager to get a feel for the horse he guided to an easy victory in a competitive handicap hurdle at Ascot in December and was clearly smitten after he finished just ahead of stablemate Peace And Co with Josses Hill, who had set the early pace, finishing behind in the three-horse gallop.
"He felt very good," said Mullins. "We all came up on the bridle but he feels like he's in terrific form at the minute. He's an improving horse and I can't wait for Cheltenham. There's no doubt that he's in there with a good chance."
Galloping just over a circuit of the track, the pace lifted considerably in the final mile and a half, with Brain Power travelling within himself throughout.
Henderson added: "That’s what I wanted. David said he felt fantastic. He was tanking and loved it. That's exactly where he wants to be and hasn't had a blow. He's ready to go. That will get his confidence sky high."
While Brain Power, a general 7-1 shot for the Champion, past the post first, it was hard not to be impressed with 2015 Triumph Hurdle winner Peace And Co, who unlike the horse who was so disappointing on the track last year, travelled sweetly in the hands of Jeremiah McGrath, looking a different animal to the one who refused to settle in his races last term.
He is now on target for the Imperial Cup at Sandown on the Saturday before Cheltenham and McGrath said: "He was very switched off and very relaxed. I think the day away has done him the world of good. He's relaxed, settled and galloped very well. There's still a big pot in him that's for sure."
Immediately after the gallop BoyleSports cut his price to 12-1 (from 16) for the County Hurdle at the festival.
Henderson added: "You saw a different horse today, didn't you? This time last year he’d have been a 100 yards in front of them before getting to the winning post the first time. We might be looking at Imperial Cups and things like that but he's back. To see him switch off like that today was just great."
On Ryanair Chase hope Josses Hill, Henderson, who plans to bring a bigger team to work at the same track on Tuesday, said: "He's great. The other two had the legs on him but that's understandable as he wants further."