Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Henderson Makes 2,000

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Henderson Makes 2,000

Article excerpt

NICKY Henderson finally reached his 2,000th winner as a jumps trainer after Punchestowns rediscovered his battling qualities in the 40% Better Off On Betfair SP Graduation Chase at Kempton.

Henderson will need to more than double his total to match the 4,182 recorded by Martin Pipe, but he remains the most successful current licence-holder at the Cheltenham Festival - and was delighted to achieve the notable mark after a few near-misses this week.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is one of the very few major prizes to have eluded Henderson in a career which started in 1978,.

Yet he was cagey as to whether Punchestowns would be taking his chance in the race after what was not exactly an impressive display.

Not yet as accomplished a chaser as he was a staying hurdler, the Judy Wilson-owned chestnut was a beaten favourite in his two previous outings at Newbury and Cheltenham.

Another defeat at 4-6 looked on the cards at half-way, with Tony McCoy and Pasco setting a punishing gallop.

However, as they reached the home straight Pasco's exertions started to tell and Punchestowns seized his opportunity, picking off the toiling grey at the last and finishing 11 lengths in front.

Henderson said: "It is nice to get it out of the way.

"If you went back 32 years to when I started, you would have said it was fairly unlikely I would reach 2,000.

"Judy Wilson gave AP McCoy his 3,000th winner with Restless D'Artaix and now she has been able to give us our 2,000th."

Of Punchestowns, he continued: "Two and a half miles around here is sharp enough for him and we have always thought he was a stayer, so I don't think the Ryanair Chase is the race for him.

"Are you thinking Gold Cups? I don't know. We might be better sitting still and going three miles at Aintree.

"We will have to digest this, so I am not ruling anything in or out."

Jockey Barry Geraghty was reasonably positive, adding: "They went flat to the boards - we had only gone a circuit and he was beaten.

"He missed two early on as he had never gone that speed over fences before so I was hanging on and hanging on.

"I let him fill up and I could see with three to jump Pasco was in trouble. …

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