Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Nicholls Chasing a Dream; It's Hooray Henry for Top Trainer

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Nicholls Chasing a Dream; It's Hooray Henry for Top Trainer

Article excerpt

Byline: COLIN FLEETWOOD JONES

MASTER trainer Paul Nicholls is never one to overrate his horses.

While many handlers would give a right arm to have Valley Henry in their care, he refuses to get carried away with the 11 year old gelding's fourth place behind dual Gold Cup hero Best Mate at Cheltenham last March.

At jumping's headquarters on Tuesday where Best Mate's trainer, Henrietta Knight, was launching the book on her legend, Nicholls observed: "I wouldn't lay a horse of mine out for the Gold Cup specifically, because I reckon Best Mate is unbeatable.

"Saying that, Valley Henry could go for it again, but first things first. He has always had tomorrow's Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby as his opening race in a season where Kempton's King George VI is his main target."

Hopefully, the ground at the northern track for the Channel 4 televised feature race will be more forgiving than appeared likely a few days ago, and with some welcome rain the going should be about right for Valley Henry.

Nicholls believes that if his horse wins there, and he is very hopeful, the plan would be to go straight to Kempton with a pair of blinkers on, not because Valley Henry is ungenuine but the aids tend to sharpen him up, and stop him from going to sleep a he's sometimes inclined to do.

The son of Step Together is on top of my horses to follow list for this term, and I expect him to climb the first rung of his ladder to further fame, starting with tomorrow's race sponsored by online bookmakers bet365.

Good old Marlborough, who won the race last season in a pulsating finish from Hussard Collonges and Gingembre, may not quite be the force he once was and I would worry more about Irish raider Alcapone, one of two sent over by trainer Mouse Morris.

Trainer Alan King's Stromness choked in the event last year but a breathing operation may have cleared up his problems. …

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