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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Title leader Henderson readying powerful team for day two

Might Bite (left) and Whisper fight out a dramatic finish to Cheltenham's RSA Chase, headed by a loose horse
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Nicky Henderson has made 21 entries at Aintree next Friday and expects to be represented in all seven races on the eve of Grand National card on a day that promises to have a big bearing on trainers' title.

In contrast, reigning champion Paul Nicholls, who currently trails him by just over £114,000 in the battle for the title, has made only seven entries the same day and will not have runners in at least three races.

The situation is reversed on the opening day of the meeting, with Nicholls' entries outnumbering Henderson's by 11 to seven.

However, while both have two entries in the reopened Betway Aintree Hurdle, Henderson's are Buveur D'Air and My Tent Or Yours, first and second respectively in last month's Stan James Champion Hurdle, whereas the Nicholls' pair will be relative outsiders, having both been unplaced in the following afternoon's Coral Cup.

That race could now have as many as ten runners, with Mares' Hurdle heroine Apple's Jade an entry despite suggestions to the contrary.

Henderson's Friday team includes both Might Bite and Whisper, who were separated by just a nose at the end of a dramatic RSA Chase at Cheltenham last month.

Outlining his hopes, he said: "We'll have something in every race. That doesn't mean we'll win all seven, but you never know!

"There are a few I'm not sure about yet, and there's some juggling to do. For example I've put Divin Bere in the 2m Top Novice Hurdle alongside Lough Derg Spirit and River Wylde, in case that looked blatantly easier than taking on Defi Du Seuil in the Juvenile on Thursday.

"I've got Whisper and Might Bite in the Mildmay, Josses Hill in the Melling, and Gold Present, O O Seven and Cocktails At Dawn all in the Topham. We intend to run Constantine Bay in the Doom Bar Sefton Novices' Hurdle, in which we also have Beyond Conceit, who has the two and a half mile novice as an alternative, and then we have three in the bumper. They include Claimantakinforgan, who was a very good third at Cheltenham, and Chef Des Obeaux, who was only just beaten at Newbury."

Cocktails At Dawn's preferred option is the £1m Randox Health Grand National, in which he is currently number 42 in the pecking order and so needs only two of those above him to defect.

Henderson, whose Vyta Du Roc and Lessons In Milan look highly unlikely to get in, confirmed: "He'll only run in the Topham if he doesn't make the cut in the National."

Nicholls played down his Aintree team and said he would have "four or five runners each day probably".

However, he has a very strong team numerically in the Grand National, with Saphir Du Rheu, Vicente, Le Mercurey, Wonderful Charm and Just A Par all assured a place in the line up.

Should one of them win, any success Henderson enjoys elsewhere at the meeting might be academic so far as the trainers' title is concerned.

Friday's Aintree card

We'll have something in every race. That doesn't mean we'll win all seven, but you never know!
E.W. Terms
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