Conceivably he might just have traded it for a somewhat different Saturday, but Nicky Henderson certainly introduced something fairly miraculous to an otherwise mundane Monday. Forty-eight hours after seeing his Gold Cup winner beaten at Haydock, and Oscar Whisky fall when challenging at the final hurdle at Ascot, the Seven Barrows trainer celebrated victory with all seven of the horses he sent out from Lambourn to Kempton, Ludlow and Ffos Las yesterday. If these cards were relatively low-key, they provided an unmistakable platform for Henderson to remind Paul Nicholls that he may yet have a say in the trainers' championship. "I don't know if I've had seven before," he said. "I remember having six one Boxing Day, or the day after. But we haven't had seven out of seven, that I can be fairly sure of!"
Henderson had five winners on Friday, as well, and both Long Run and Oscar Whisky laid down perfectly sound foundations for their new campaigns. While Cheltenham in March has always been Henderson's abiding priority, and remains the most likely source of the prize-money he needs to challenge Nicholls, nowadays he appears to be maintaining an unprecedented consistency, wherever and whenever his horses are engaged. Long one of the pillars of his profession, he has contrived an unfeasible consolidation over the past couple of seasons – even as he has had to deal with one or two unfamiliar and palpably infuriating controversies. That may not be a coincidence, in that he can seldom have been more motivated than when completing a suspension two summers ago after one of his horses – mortifyingly, one owned by the monarch herself – tested positive to prohibited medication. But he can now survey his historic Lambourn stables with renewed pride, and yesterday toasted an outlandish landmark for a trainer always associated sooner with quality than quantity.
As such, it was fitting that the seven winners should have included one or two likely to end up in his Festival team. And no less so, given the energy so many of his jumpers seem to learn in their schooling, that three were novice chasers – albeit Mossley got away with a couple of blunders before landing odds of 1-8 to complete the seven-timer. Henderson's depredations had required barely 90 minutes, and were inadvertently perfected by the withdrawal at the start of Wise Move, who had been set to oppose his stablemate, Darlan, in the opener at Kempton. Runaway winner of a Haydock bumper last season, Darlan had since been purchased by J P McManus and was widely cut to 14-1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham after an easy success.
Though the seven were so well placed that they collectively paid only 66-1, those odds were ample to prompt gnashing of teeth among the bookmakers. George Primarolo of Betfred captured their dismay well. "On a sleepy Monday afternoon, Henderson's magnificent seven have ridden into town and robbed us blind," he said.
After Kauto Star's renaissance against Long Run at Haydock, the sport's high achievers are certainly doing their best to stem the cold tides of recession. However, the top-class Pandorama is out for the season. Noel Meade had hoped to have him back to defend the Lexus Chase at the Leopardstown Christmas meeting, but revealed that Pandorama is still to shake off the soreness he picked up at Cheltenham.
Another champion whose path has not always been straightforward added a fresh chapter to his colourful disciplinary history when Kieren Fallon was fined a total of £3,140 by the British Horseracing Authority. He was found guilty of misleading an official over the reasons for his failure to appear for his first two mounts at Chester on 5 May. His counsel traced his punishment to a casual, "10-second" exchange in the weighing room on the day. Publication of the disciplinary panel's reasons – possibly as early as today – will be awaited with curiosity by many.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Rowan Spirit (12.10 Southwell)
Less exposed than these and confirmed himself at home over course and distance with a career best effort in defeat last time, travelling strongly and finishing clear of the third.
Mottley Crewe (1.10 Southwell)
Another thriving sort with a very similar profile, likewise a winner at Catterick this autumn before a fine second at today's course, and he is just as effective over this sixth furlong.
One to watch
Synchronised (Jonjo O'Neill) promised that he will be in top fettle for the defence of the Coral Welsh National when finishing well for third over hurdles at Haydock on Saturday.
Where the money's going
Wymott is in further demand with Betfred for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on Saturday, now 7-1 from 8-1.Reuse content