Conan goes on reconnaissance mission

 

It remains to be seen whether Long Run can go to Newbury on Saturday, and Oscar Whisky may yet end up running on the all-weather at Kempton the previous day. But at least Nicky Henderson appears to have guaranteed himself one key Cheltenham Festival trial this weekend, having yesterday committed Captain Conan to a race at Leopardstown on Sunday, when the weather forecast promises at least half a banquet, after a week of very cold gruel.

British trainers are frequently reproached for their reluctance to pursue big prizes in Ireland, but Henderson has so many promising novice hurdlers in his care that he has decided to test the water against some of the nest young Irish prospects. Previously trained in France, Captain Conan was fast-tracked to Grade One company for his first start in Britain, at Sandown last month, and narrowly beat the wayward but talented Colour Squadron. Potential opponents in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle include Cash And Go, who extended his unbeaten record over timber at the Christmas meeting, and Sous Les Cieux, third at odds-on there after racing too freely in a small field. Paddy Power make Captain Conan 3-1 favourite.

"We could run Captain Conan in an ordinary race with a penalty, and not find out a great deal," Henderson explained. "So we'll let him tell us where to go for the rest of the season. He worked very well this morning, and Barry [Geraghty] said why not give it a go. He's a lovely big horse, a real chaser in the making."

Apart from Sous Les Cieux, Willie Mullins inevitably has other feasible options in Midnight Game and Terminal – and once again aspires to a central role on the rest of the card. Ut De Sivola could test his reputation as Ireland's leading juvenile hurdler, while Quel Esprit is one of the favourites for the Hennessy Gold Cup after rebuilding his confidence in lesser company. Synchronised has evidently given Jonjo O'Neill one or two problems since his success in the Lexus Chase, but remains on course to return, while Jessies Dream is set to surface for the first time since finishing second in the RSA Chase at the Festival last year.

Some respite from the freeze is meanwhile expected on the home front, with Taunton optimistic for tomorrow and Musselburgh now able to salvage for Saturday the valuable card abandoned last weekend. Should the jumps meeting scheduled for Kempton on Saturday fail to beat the frost, moreover, a "bumpers-for-jumpers" fixture may be dignified by Oscar Whisky.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Les Verguettes (5.30 Kempton) Narrow maiden success at Wolverhampton last time could prove a platform for improvement.

Next best

Spartilla (5.00 Kempton) Remains unexposed at this kind of distance.

One to watch

Lie Forrit (William Amos) was again turned over in a three-runner race at Ayr on Monday, but will relish a stiffer test of stamina over fences.

Where the money's going

Medermit is 11-1 from 16-1 with William Hill for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham next month.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick