Henderson warms to Burton's work ethic

After a late night in Mayfair, at the Cartier Awards, Nicky Henderson could probably think of better ways to spend his morning than he did yesterday. For a start, his vantage point down the all-weather gallop was flayed by a savagely cold wind. In summer sun, the Berkshire downland here unfurls in a golden tide; now it lay trapped, muddy and murky, under heavy grey skies. Not even this, however, was sufficient to discourage a claustrophobic inquisition.

As a gesture towards his local racecourse, Henderson had opened the gates of Seven Barrows in Lambourn to reporters and cameramen to promote the Hennessy meeting at Newbury next week. First of all, however, he had to clear them all out of the way, so that horses could be loaded on to a lorry bound for Warwick. One, a French import named Nadiya De La Vega, would run out a really impressive winner of her first steeplechase; another, Burton Port, would be galloped in the hope of eliciting something of the sparkle he so modestly conceals at home.

Burton Port is Henderson's principal candidate for the Hennessy Gold Cup itself, on Saturday week. In six novice chases last term, he was beaten by only one horse – Weapon's Amnesty in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival – but he remains incorrigibly reticent on the gallops. "He's just not a flashy worker," Henderson said. "Not like Long Run or Punchestowns. Going to the Festival, it wouldn't be unfair to say he looked our third string. But he's been a revelation."

Better like that, Henderson acknowledged, than the other way round. "Those that do things at home, the word gets out, and everyone gets overexcited," he lamented. "This one just goes out and does his work, and you wouldn't know he's there."

Having picked up an injury at the Festival, Punchestowns will resume in a graduation chase at Sandown in a fortnight. But Long Run again jumped without fluency when third on his reappearance in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham last Saturday.

"I just think when they go that pace, over two miles five [furlongs], it takes him out of his comfort zone," Henderson said. "Over three miles, in the King George, I hope he'd find it easier to get into a bit of a rhythm.

"On Saturday he was long, short, long, short. You do see it happen round Cheltenham. Kauto Star, in the Gold Cup: before he fell, he was in a muddle. When that happens, you compound the felony at every fence. Before you know it, another fence is on top of you – and you haven't worked out what happened at the last one yet."

Despite a double at Cheltenham last Friday, and yesterday's winner, the stable does not seem quite as forward as last autumn.

"They got found out on Sunday," Henderson remarked. "The ground had got progressively worse through the meeting, and all four of our runners on the third day got tired."

But he sounds pleased with his champion hurdler, Binocular, who makes his reappearance at Newcastle on Hennessy day. "He jumped five hurdles for AP [McCoy] the other morning and that told him all he needed to know," he said. "He was brilliant. That's the crux of it, with this horse, the schooling. It's as good as a tracheal wash, blood test and brain scan."

With his caveat about ostentatious homework in mind, Henderson gave guarded encouragement about the way Secret World, who was useful on the Flat, has adapted to his new vocation. He is seven, now, but Henderson had seen the previous evening what can happen when Flat horses are allowed to reach physical maturity. Goldikova, who remains in training to seek a mind-boggling fourth success at the Breeders' Cup, was named Cartier Horse of the Year after completing her unprecedented hat-trick at Churchill Downs 12 days ago.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Grand Stitch (4.40 Wolverhampton) Has flourished since switched to this surface, fitted with a visor and dropped in trip. In no danger from home turn after blazing clear over course and distance last time, and can soak up a 6lb rise here.

Next best

Ajaafa (6.10 Wolverhampton) Immediate signs of renewal for a new stable at Kempton last time, staying on for third after meeting traffic. Looked ready for this seventh furlong, and able to run off a 3lb lower mark today.

One to watch

For What (D R Lanigan) Has a smart US pedigree and made an encouraging debut at Wolverhampton, green early before regrouping for a strong finish.

Where the money's going

Planet Of Sound is 8-1 from 10-1 with William Hill for the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
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

Front-Office Developer (C#, .NET, Java,Artificial Intelligence)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Front-Of...

C++ Quant Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

Java/Calypso Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, J...

SQL Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

Day In a Page

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York