Racing: Henderson has Lanzarote in sights

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The Independent Online

As the Saturday specialist, the unstoppable Nick Henderson, hones his plans to lift yet another major prize this weekend, his Lambourn neighbour Nick Gaselee is forced to announce a permanent halt to operations. The man who trained Party Politics for Grand National glory in 1992 is to retire at the age of 64 as he can no longer attract enough horses to make his training operation viable.

Henderson, meanwhile, who has this season saddled the winners of such Saturday highlights as the Paddy Power, Tripleprint and First National Gold Cups and the Victor Chandler Chase, has high hopes that Greenhope can add to his haul in this weekend's £50,000 Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton.

The Seven Barrows trainer also has Petanque entered in the Lanzarote but said yesterday: "Wincanton looks the better option for Petanque. It is an easier race and I'm not sure I'd want to take Greenhope on."

An eye-catching course-and-distance victory at the Christmas meeting, after being off the track for 10 months, has not gone unnoticed and punters have already made Greenhope the 4-1 favourite for the Lanzarote after the race sponsors, the Tote, opened their betting with the gelding on 6-1.

"It was a very good performance," Henderson's stable jockey, Mick Fitzgerald, said. "He's a little bit of a volatile character in that he likes to get on with things and he's got his own way of doing it. But I don't mind how he looks as long as they win and this fellow certainly did that in good style at Kempton."

Fitzgerald was equally effusive about the team's Newbury winner yesterday, Trabolgan, for whom there are high expectations. "Mick said that he rode like a very good horse," Henderson said, "and we will have to start thinking about going to Cheltenham, probably for the Royal & SunAlliance Hurdle. I think and hope that he is class."

No one could argue that Gaselee, one of the most capable trainers to grace National Hunt racing over the last three decades is anything other than "class". The fates have not been kind to him, though, and he is to relinquish the licence at his Saxon Cottage stables at the end of the jumps season.

"Sadly, I am going to retire at the end of April," he said. "I have some good memories. I've been very lucky and I shall miss it very much.

"I've not got enough horses," Gaselee continued, "I've had some very loyal owners who have retired or, sadly, died. It's a terrible wrench and I don't particularly want to retire, but you've got to be realistic."

Although the Aintree win in election year was the highlight of his 27-year training career, Gaselee had Cheltenham Festival successes with Private View in the 1988 Cathcart Cup and Christmas Gorse in the 1994 National Hunt Chase. He rode over 100 winners as an amateur, including wins in the Kim Muir and Foxhunter's Chase.

There will also be a cessation of activity in a different quarter as the New York Racing Association plans to withhold coverage of racing at its courses by Attheraces in an effort to decrease the amount wagered on its tracks through Betfair and other betting exchanges.

"It's not Attheraces at fault here. it's the accessibility of our races to Betfair we find troubling," said Bill Nadar, of the NYRA, an organisation hurt by the reality that those who use betting exchanges are not bringing revenue to their tracks by contributing revenue through pari-mutuel pools.

LANZAROTE HURDLE (Kempton, Saturday): Tote: 4-1 Greenhope, 9-2 Kadount, 11-2 Perouse, 7-1 Hawadeth, Sud Bleu, 8-1 Never, 9-1 Majlis, 10-1 Golden Alpha, Petanque, 12-1 Limerick Boy, 14-1 Altay, Man O'Mystery, 16-1 Idaho D'Ox, Nathos, 20-1 Pirandello, 25-1 Swan Knight, 66-1 Ben Ewar, Lighting Star.

Racing in brief

David Loder celebrated his return to the ranks of public trainers with a double at Lingfield yesterday with Dawn Piper and Diamond Way. Loder ended a five-year contract with Godolphin last autumn and is based at Egerton Stud, where he has 150 horses. Both winners were partnered by Jamie Spencer, his first rides since returning from Hong Kong.

Ruby Walsh has withdrawn his appeal against his ban for careless riding on Manly Money at Ascot on Saturday.

sBest Mate is likely to run at Leopardstown again next Christmas. The Ericsson Chase he won this winter will be known as the Lexus Chase next season.