Henderson leads the trainers’ championship but after winning the Scottish National, Nicholls has cut the lead and will send as many to Sandown as possible
NICKY HENDERSON admits he will have to “pull a few rabbits out of the hat” at the jump season’s finale at Sandown on Saturday after Paul Nicholls clawed his way back into the title race.
Nicholls won the Scottish Grand National with Vicente, cutting the lead to £190,000. Despite that large deficit, it is still all to play for.
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While Henderson’s priority for most of the week is the Punchestown Festival, Nicholls is likely to nibble away at his opponent’s advantage before the bet365 Gold Cup card at Sandown.
“We haven’t got much before the weekend,” said Henderson, who could call on the mighty Altior in the Celebration Chase.
“I’m going to Ireland for the week for Punchestown. We’ve got runners there and now we’re going to have to pull a few rabbits out of the hat for Sandown.”
Henderson has yet to win a National of any description after fifth place was the best he could manage with Lessons In Milan.
Henderson’s two other runners, Premier Bond and Sugar Baron, failed to complete the course. The latter gave jockey Nico de Boinville a nasty tumble at the very first fence.
He was taken to hospital for assessment after being treated by medical staff on the course, but was released in the evening.
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Henderson reported the rider to be nothing more than “stiff”.
“Nico stayed up with us last night and I’m just on my way home now. He’s on his way home too from Ayr,” he said.
“He’s fine. He’s stiff, but no worse. He says he’s going to ride out tomorrow morning so he should be all right for Punchestown.”