By Simon Jackson.
Nicky Henderson heads the betting with most firms to win the 2014-15 National Hunt trainers’ championship which was won last year for the eighth time by Paul Nicholls.
Henderson seeks to reclaim the title he secured in 2012-13 after a stellar campaign that included winning the Hennessy and Cheltenham Gold Cup with Bobs Worth, the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Sprinter Sacre and the Arkle with Simonsig.
The Lambourn handler’s title chances were dealt a blow last year when Simonsig was ruled out for the season along with Sprinter Sacre, who was pulled up at his only start.
But the duo are back in work and have been reported to be progressing well for Henderson, who is best-priced as even money favourite to win the title with all firms excluding Ladbrokes, who have Nicholls at evens and Henderson priced at 11-10.
“Sprinter Sacre’s back and cantering,” Henderson said earlier this month. “He looks exceptionally well and so far it’s been great.
“You have no option I don’t think, but to go straight to the Tingle Creek [at Sandown on December 6]. There’s nowhere else to go.
“He would go for the Shloer at Cheltenham if he was ready. I just think we’ll see how things are going. There isn’t much for him other than the Tingle Creek and the Victor Chandler before Cheltenham.”
Meanwhile, the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day is the likely target for Simonsig who is also back in work after needing time to recover from a leg injury.
“Simonsig is a seriously good horse,” Henderson said. “He’s the only horse we had two years ago who would be capable of going with Sprinter Sacre and very capable of doing so.
“Last year we never got as far as working him because that splint interfered. We got him to slow work but never got him to fast work.
“His splint has been repaired and there is no reason why he shouldn’t be every bit as good and he is seriously good.”
In other news Paddy Power is offering prices on selected horses to win any race at the Cheltenham Festival, where the betting is headed by Annie Power at 7-4.
Paddy Power said: “This market is designed for the jumps connoisseur who has already identified a Cheltenham winner, but, for example in the case of More Of That, doesn’t know if he will continue to exhibit his considerable talent over hurdles or have a crack at the bigger obstacles.”
To win any race at the Cheltenham Festival, Paddy Power bets: 7-4 Annie Power, 5-2 Faugheen, Vautour, More Of That, 4 The New One, Un De Sceaux, 6 Shaneshill, Simonsig, 7 Beat That, Josses Hill, 8 Hurricane Fly, Silver Concorde, Don Poli, Champagne Fever, Briar Hill, Black Hercules, 10 Boston Bob.