Trainers' war of nerves

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The Independent Online

Trainers yesterday began to plan again for a Cheltenham Festival in late April. "These five weeks will probably be the most difficult weeks of the year." "Being a trainer now comes into play. We've worked how to get them there, now we've got to get them back. We've got to take them off the boil, otherwise their brains will come out of their ears. We can't keep on training them, training them, or there'll be bugger all left. They're wound up so you can't wind any more."

Trainers yesterday began to plan again for a Cheltenham Festival in late April. "These five weeks will probably be the most difficult weeks of the year." "Being a trainer now comes into play. We've worked how to get them there, now we've got to get them back. We've got to take them off the boil, otherwise their brains will come out of their ears. We can't keep on training them, training them, or there'll be bugger all left. They're wound up so you can't wind any more."

Every horse is different, as Henderson makes clear when describing the prospects for his leading lights. "Bacchanal is a very stuffy horse who wants a hell of a lot of work and I can't see him getting to the end of April without a race, so he'll almost certainly go to Aintree and then to Cheltenham. Tiutchev will be the most difficult. I had him cooked to absolute perfection but you could never hold him there. Marlborough is probably the easiest and Landing Light should be quite easy. Geos is not so easy - he needs to be fresh and well."

Noel Chance, trainer of Flagship Uberalles, says: "We've just got to back off him for a week to 10 days. The end of the season is not the ideal time to do it. You don't know how he will react, whether he will be over the top or be OK."

Mary Reveley envisages "loads" of problems in keeping her Champion Chase runner, Function Dream, in top form. "She's been fit for a long, long time - she won at Uttoxeter in October," Reveley points out.

Function Dream is also one whose chance may be scuppered by drying ground. Peter Scudamore, assistant to Nigel Twiston-Davies, has similar fears for intended Gold Cup runner Frantic Tan, reporting "I was getting very excited, but now his chance has gone."

James Fanshawe, though, can see a silver lining. Ideally, he would want a new trial race at the end of March for Champion Hurdle hope Hors La Loi III, but he concedes: "Purely from a selfish point of view, I'm quite pleased, because now it's raining hard and he does not want a bog."

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