HENDERSON OUTLINES BOYLESPORTS INTERNATIONAL PLANS
Meeting - The Boylesports International, Dates - Friday, December 14 & Saturday, December 15
Advance Admission Prices - Friday, Club/Tattersalls £18, Best Mate £8; Saturday, Club £27, Tattersalls £20, Best Mate £10
Gates Open - 10am all days
First race - 12.10pm Friday, 12.20pm Saturday
Nicky Henderson revealed today at a Cheltenham Racecourse-organised media visit to his Seven Barrows yard near Lambourn that Copsale Lad is set to run in the £150,000 Grade Three Boylesports.com Gold Cup (2.40pm) over two miles and five furlongs on Saturday.
Copsale Lad has two other options at the Boylesports International - one over hurdles and the other in Friday’s feature, the £100,000 Listed Boylesports.com Cashback Chase over three miles and a furlong - and he will be wearing blinkers or a visor for the first time.
Henderson said: “He worked this morning on the grass and it was lovely ground here. The one thing Copsale Lad needs when jumping fences is good ground and, if we have a dry week, there is every possibility that he will run in the Boylesports.com Gold Cup.
“I think he might be sporting something (blinkers/visor) - it certainly won’t be a Father Christmas hat! I have schooled him in them and he went well.
“He ran well at Newbury over hurdles the other day and had a good blow, so he might have needed the race.
“Over fences he has to concentrate on what he is doing - not on what everybody else is doing.”
Copsale lad is 20/1 with the sponsor Boylesports, who have seen more money for favourite New Little Bric who is now 9/2 from 11/2 and the firm’s biggest ante-post loser.
Leon Blanche of Boylesports also reported that Il Duce has been backed to 8/1 from an opening 10/1 while there has also been each-way support for Abragante at 7/1.
Henderson is very pleased with Afsoun following his first outing of the season in the Ascot Hurdle on November 24 over two miles and three furlongs, in which he finished second to Hardy Eustace.
Last year’s Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle third drops back in distance for Saturday’s £200,000 Grade Two Boylesports.com International (3.10pm), in which he is due to meet reigning Champion Hurdler Sublimity.
The trainer reported: “Mick Fitzgerald said they were never going fast enough for Afsoun in the Ascot race and that is hardly the signal to switch him to three miles.
“We are going to come back to two miles on Saturday in the Boylesports.com International and the race will tell us where we stand in the Champion Hurdle pecking order.
“You’ve got the reigning champion and an awful lot of young pretenders such as Katchit in particular.
“It was a very good performance at Ascot, even though the race might not have worked out as well as we thought and Afsoun has been going great since then - he is very well in himself.
“The Boylesports.com International is where we have to go with him - it is a very valuable race.
“I think he goes on any ground. He has pace and he travels well in his races, but he needs a true run race to show his best.
“We all know horses have to stay well at Cheltenham and I assume Saturday’s race will be run at a good gallop. But if he has to make the running, he will.
“We are on a finding-out mission, but so are lots of other people.
“It’s going to be a great race on Saturday and is fully entitled to be because of the prize money on offer.”
Afsoun is rated a 9/2 chance with the sponsors for the two mile, one furlong, Boylesports.com International.
Boylesports report Sublimity to be on the drift in Saturday’s contest, and he is out to 5/2 from 7/4. Katchit is now 4/1 from 9/2 while Jazz Messenger opened at 4/1 (with a run) but is out to 7/1 (with a run).
Henderson is likely to be represented by both Crozan and All Star in the £20,000 Jenny Mould Memorial Handicap Chase (12.55pm) over an extended two miles on Saturday.
He said: “I see the Racing Post this morning has told me that Crozan is going for the Champion Chase. Mr Hemmings (owner) has rung me already to ask me to please consult him before making funny decisions like that!
“It wouldn’t have crossed my mind to enter him for the Champion Chase until I read the article this morning but they are on the right lines as regards what we are doing with the horse.
“We are running in the Jenny Mould Memorial Handicap Chase to test him at two miles and I hope it tells us what I was reading this morning.
“Crozan has threatened to be very, very good and maybe Saturday’s race is where it’s going to happen.
“He was left in front when Granit Jack unfortunately came down two out in the Paddy Power Gold Cup and you’d have thought that he might have taken some catching from there. Not only was he caught, but he emptied out completely and it would appear that he possibly did not stay. I have would thought he would wear blinkers again on Saturday but I’ve yet to talk to Michael (Meagher) or Trevor (Hemmings).
“I will probably run All Star in the race as well. He is coming out of his novice stage but it’s not a bad place to start and he is very well in himself.”
Jack The Giant, third in the 2007 Irish Independent Arkle Trophy, is set to make his seasonal debut in Friday’s £20,000 CFR Group (Electrical & Mechanical Services) Handicap Hurdle (2.30pm) after being a possible for the Boylesports.com Gold Cup last week.
Henderson remarked: “He had a great first year over fences - everything went right but at Aintree last season he made a couple of mistakes and really got uncomfortable.
“I know it will do him the world of good to have a run over hurdles and his rating is quite a lot lower - 30lb - over hurdles.”
The Lambourn trainer may have a couple of other runners at the Boylesports International - Petit Robin in the £15,000 EBF/Boylesports.com National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle (3.40pm) on Friday and Duc De Regniere in the £20,000 Boylesports.com Fon-A-Bet Novices’ Chase (2.05pm) on Saturday.
The trainer added: “Petit Robin is a nice horse and wasn’t quite ready when I ran him at Cheltenham last month, while I hope Duc Du Regniere will start off over fences at Cheltenham on Saturday.”