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Saturday's expert tips - Henderson, Harrington and De Boinville discuss their chances with Unibet

Jonathan Vine in News 15 Dec 2018
Nicky Henderson (left) congratulates Nico De Boinville (right) after the Champion Chase.

Using their blogs with Unibet, Nicky Henderson, Jessica Harrington and Nico De Boinville discuss their chances of claiming winners at Cheltenham and Fairyhouse on Saturday.

The Unibet International Hurdle is the main event at Cheltenham this afternoon, while Fairyhouse's card headlines proceedings over in Ireland. Unibet ambassadors Nicky Henderson and Jessica Harrington, plus Seven Barrow's retained jockey, Nico De Boinville use their blogs to discuss their runners in Saturday's big races.

Nicky Henderson

12:45 - Ryman's Novices' Chase
Jenkins (Nico de Boinville) (9/2 Unibet)

He was fourth over course and distance last time, only beaten a length, so that was a good effort and this trip suits him best. This is a decent race but he’s in great form and I wouldn’t write him off.

OK Corral (Bary Geraghty) (2/1 Unibet)
We’ve been waiting to go over fences with him and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do but I am extremely concerned about the ground and if it’s as quick as today, I would have to seriously think about taking him out. His form over hurdles is very good, including finishing second in the Albert Bartlett and he wasn’t disagreed behind Santini at Aintree. We’re starting him off over 2m4f which is what he wants first time out and he’s schooled great, but the ground is a big threat to us.

1:20 - Theinval (Jerry McGrath) (7/1 Unibet)
He’s competing of a career-high mark (150) but he should have come on plenty for that run at Ascot and he’ll love the ground here. I was pleased with his piece of work earlier in the week and he should go well.

1:55 - Caspian Caviar Gold Cup
Rather Be (Jerry McGrath) (7/2 Unibet)
We all know how well he was travelling until getting brought down four from home over course and distance last time, although whether he would have actually won, nobody knows, but Jerry thought he would win and was absolutely gutted so it would be nice if they could have a change of luck as Jerry rides him every day and they get on very well. He came close to winning the Close Brothers at the Festival so deserves to win a big one and the ground will be absolutely perfect. His work has been good and if he shows what he did a month ago, he should go very well.

Casablanca Mix (Nico de Boinville) (16/1 Unibet)

We had her entered in several races, including over hurdles, but opted for this as it’s a valuable prize and 2m4f on good ground is just what she wants. It’s a tough ask but she’s in there to give it her best shot and she could easily run into a place

2:30 - Doux Pretender (Noel Fehily) (11/4 Unibet)

I must admit I was pleasantly surprised with his win at Ascot last time as I wasn’t entirely convinced he was ready and he was the horse I least fancied of all of ours on the day. That was over 2m4f but he stayed on very well so the step up to this trip should really suit. It’s early days to be talking Albert Bartlett and we’ll know much more after this.
3:05 - Unibet International Hurdle
Brain Power (Nico de Boinville) (7/1 Unibet)
He’s had quite a ‘varied’ career over fences up until now so Michael and I decided it wouldn’t do him any harm to go back over hurdles and put a set of cheek pieces on again. Whether Cheltenham is really his favourite track, I’m not 100% sure, but he is a very classy horse and is the only person who can keep up with Altior on the gallops. I think the good ground will help him and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him run a big race.

We Have A Dream (Daryl Jacob) (13/2 Unibet)
He travelled very well approaching two out but didn’t look to quite get home at Ascot last time so the drop back down in trip may help. Everyone knows how hard it is for these four-year-olds to pick up where they left off after their Juvenile season but he did a nice easy piece of work with Call Me Lord on Tuesday and I’m very happy with his well being. He wasn’t quite ready at Wincanton for the Unibet Elite Hurdle and the trip may be an excuse last time which gives me hope that he’s got plenty in his favour here.

3:20 - O O Seven (Aidan Coleman) (6/4 Unibet)

He’s been a great servant so far and is a very consistent person who ended last season’s campaign with a good effort behind Top Notch at Sandown. I think 3m on good ground is ideal and we’ve tinkered with his wind over the summer. His work has been very good and this looks a decent opportunity for him.

1:45 - Style De Garde (James Bowen) (4/6 Unibet)

He was much too keen at Hereford and ran away with James (Bowen) but his jumping was excellent and we think he has a bright future over the larger obstacles. He’s a horse with a lot of speed and he’ll bounce off the ground and this is a bigger field so they may go slightly more of a gallop which will suit and he’s learning all the time.

Irish trainer Jessica Harrington celebrates after winning the Gold Cup.

Jessica Harrington 

Saturday - Fairyhouse
12:40 Handicap Chase - Close Shave (Mark Walsh) (11/1 Unibet)

He’s been pulled up the last three times but has been given a nice break since the spring and arrives here in good form. He’s a grand horse who is going back up to 3 miles but I’m not sure what the ground will be like as there are gales, rain, wind and everything forecast so we’ll have to see. Like many of mine, he may need his first run back, too.

Sunday - Navan
12:00 Maiden Hurdle - Polished Steel (Robbie Power)

He’s had two runs this season and I was delighted with him in Punchestown when he was fourth, and we’re going over 2m again because he needs to get settled so hopefully they will go a nice gallop. The more rain we get the better as he loves plenty of cut in the ground and I expect him to run a big race.

12:30 G2 Novice Hurdle - Magnium (Robbie Power)

This is pretty much the same race as the one he contested last time when he was beaten a neck in a G2 over C/D behind Easy Game and the third (Choungaya) is also taking them on as well. I think he has come on again since that but we also have Rhinestone and Monbeg Worldwide in the field too so it’s going to be a competitive affair but he’s in grand form.

It’s too early to be thinking about Cheltenham but if he were to go there we’d be looking at either the Ballymore or Albert Bartlett. We are going to miss anything over Christmas and take him to Naas for a Grade One in the first week of January, all being well.

1:00 Handicap Hurdle
Walk To Freedom (Robbie Power)

He won over 2m6f last time (back down to 2m4f here) and was up 7lbs but he did it well the last day and is in great form so hopefully, he can come on further for the run. To be honest I was surprised he was as good as he was last time which was a nice surprise as he’s had lots of problems. I’m happy with him and think he has a great chance in his current form.

Law Girl (Paddy Kennedy)

She was purchased out of Willie Mullins’ stable for €3000 and was sent to us so we’re very much on a fact-finding mission. She’s got some smart flat form, although I’m not sure her jumping form is as good, she’s settled in well and Paddy is going to ride her because he knows her well.

Jack Fiasco (Sean O’Keeffe)

We were going to keep him for Leopardstown but thought he had another chance in a Handicap after a good effort in Fairyhouse the last day. 2m4f is probably a little too short for him but he’s been very consistent and the uphill finish will suit as he’ll be doing his best work at the end.

Nico de Boinville and Altior pose for the camera.

Nico De Boinville


12.45pm - Jenkins (9/2 Unibet)
He was in great form at the turn of the year with good handicap hurdle wins at Kempton and Ascot. He did what he was entitled to when beating a sole rival on his chasing debut at Stratford – though he did pick up a 5lb penalty for that - and ran an excellent race when a close fourth here in a good race last month. This is another tough contest but my horse ran to a pretty good level last time and any rain won’t bother him. He is tried in cheekpieces again here.

1.55pm - Casablanca Mix (16/1 Unibet)
She’s got a nice racing weight here. She was very good in the first half of last season when chasing home Willoughby Court at Huntingdon and following up with a comprehensive defeat of Theatre Territory there. Obviously, she ran far better than a 10-length second would suggest at Kempton on her reappearance, as she was probably just about still in front and in there pitching when a bad mistake at the last immediately ended her winning chance. She is actually 5lb higher here but she ran another good race when just touched off over 3m at Market Rasen last time, and I think the step back down trip is definitely in her favour. Good ground suits but if the rain arrives that won’t bother her at all, and I wouldn’t have thought it would get too bad anyway.

3.05pm - Brain Power (7/1 Unibet)
Things haven’t gone entirely to plan with him since his Kempton win over fences last year – though an Arkle second is not to be sniffed at – and he is back over hurdles here. And don’t forget what a good horse he was in this sphere two years ago, as an easy Ascot handicap win off a mark of 149 and a Punchestown Champion Hurdle fifth underline. If he runs up to that level, don’t expect him to be far away. He is very talented on his day, full of class, and of course, Laurina’s no-show has thrown this wide-open. He wore cheekpieces when putting up his best hurdling efforts, and that headgear is back on here. 

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Saturday's expert tips - Henderson, Harrington and De Boinville discuss their chances with Unibet

Using their blogs with Unibet, Nicky Henderson, Jessica Harrington and Nico De Boinville discuss their chances of claiming winners at Cheltenham and Fairyhouse on Saturday 15th December.

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