Henderson bubbling as Altior and Brain Power shine in festival workouts
While Douvan has a better than 50-50 chance of making the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, odds-on favourite Altior was picking up the pace at home, Nicky Henderson describing his latest work as "absolutely superb".
A day after Willie Mullins had revealed Douvan is winning his battle to be ready for Cheltenham a fortnight on Wednesday, Henderson took a dozen of his festival hopefuls to Kempton to work on the all-weather circuit.
But he left the best of them in Lambourn, where Altior worked for the first time since making a winning return in the Game Spirit Chase.
"Altior worked this morning very, very well, perfect, absolutely superb," said Henderson. "That's the first gallop he's had since Newbury. He'll do another bit at the weekend. He's a hard horse to work, although I don't think he needs an awful lot."
Henderson's other brilliant worker, Brain Power, went to Kempton, where, under Nico de Boinville, he finished ahead of Burbank and Days Of Heaven, watched by his owner Michael Buckley.
Like Altior, who had wind surgery before his reappearance, Racing Post Arkle Chase hope Brain Power has had a breathing procedure completed since he fell in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot.
Henderson said: "Brain Power is a very good horse. He could do that to anything. He's the only horse who could seriously work with Altior. He looked very good. He was with two of the sharper ones, Burbank and Days Of Heaven.
"Brain Power has had his wind done since his last run. He didn't make any noises today, but we'd never heard a noise off him until he did it at Ascot."
Henderson is expected to have around 40 runners at the festival. His 12 Kempton workers completed a circuit each in spins that involved De Boinville, Daryl Jacob, Jerry McGrath and James Bowen.
L'Ami Serge came out on top of a group containing My Tent Or Yours in the fastest of the timed works, although this was not the primary aim of a session, as it was mainly designed as an awayday from Lambourn.
"Nothing did anything wrong, that's always a good thing," said Henderson. "They finished very much as was expected.
"L'Ami Serge, who is a very pacey horse, went with My Tent Or Yours and Style De Garde. Tent was good. He had a good blow and has another bit of work to do.
"Apple's Shakira was great. She's very laid-back at home and it's nice to see her come to the racecourse, switch on and do that."
Santini, Thomas Campbell, O O Seven, Fixe Le Kap and Kilcrea Vale were the other workers.
Henderson added: "Some needed gallops more than others. It does put an edge on them.
"I purposely worked Might Bite, Buveur D'Air and Theinval here on Saturday because they wanted to come into a raceday environment. This is halfway. Nobody's under any great pressure, they're having a nice time. They've got some more work to do, but the serious bit is out of the way for them."
Despite Altior remaining in Lambourn, he still had an awayday of sorts as Henderson took he and the rest of the workers to the Jockey Club'sall-weather gallop to exercise, deciding that working them into the teeth of a wind on his own stretch would have been too much to ask.
"Our grass is perfectly all right, but if I'd worked them into that cold wind it wouldn't have been good for them," he explained. "We're hardly going to school this week – luckily we did all that last week, everything went very well.
"They'll need to do one more serious bit of work over the weekend, or early next week, the bulk of them, depending which day they're running. This weather's testing."
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