Chantry House’s success in the Grade One Marsh Novices’ Chase was a rare highlight for British runners at a meeting dominated by the Irish.
Yet, while Nico de Boinville’s mount benefitted from the early departure of the previously unbeaten Irish odds-on favourite Envoi Allen, Henderson hopes his charge can develop into a three-mile chaser of repute.
This win will always hold special significance for the champion trainer because it was his 70th success at the Festival – the best by any British trainers and all the more poignant as Henderson’s eyesight deteriorates.
“You’d have to think he might be going over three miles sooner rather than later,” reflected the trainer.
“I don’t see why not – it depends on how quickly they recover from these races as to whether he can go on to Aintree – but it looks as though he will be looking for three miles.
“He was about in top gear all the way, but when he got there he did it well and he quickened up well. We’ve got a lot of debriefing to do, but it looks as though three miles would help him.”
Henderson added: “He was good at Wetherby (on his last run in February); we had a problem here back in December when he had an issue with his back, which we actually had to have surgery on, so he did well to get back in time to get a race in at Wetherby before coming here for this.
“He’s a lovely horse and I had hoped he would at least give Envoi Allen at least a bit of a race. When you get given a chance like that, it’s nice to be able to take it, anyway.
“It’s a pity Envoi Allen fell, from a lot of points of view – he has looked flawless all year and it was a surprise to see him do that – but you’ve got to grab the chances when you get them.”
This view was shared by de Boinville, who was quick to praise Henderson’s team, and owner JP McManus, for rising to the challenge provided by the Irish, whose yards have not endured the cold weather disruption that has afflicted so many UK trainers this winter.
“I’m just absolutely delighted,” added the jockey. “Never discount Nicky Henderson round here, or ever. It’s been a tough couple of months, but the horses seem to be returning to form.”
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