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Saturday's expert quotes - Henderson, De Boinville and Harrington discuss their runners with Unibet

Jonathan Vine 19 Jan 2019
Nicky Henderson poses at Ascot.

Via their blog with bookmakers Unibet, Nicky Henderson, Nico De Boinville and Jessica Harrington discuss their runners at Ascot and Haydock on Saturday 19th January.

Haydock Park takes centre stage on Saturday, with the Unibet Hurdle the race of the afternoon. Ascot also plays it's part in the proceedings, with Altior's appearance in the Clarence House the main talking point. Using their blogs with Unibet, top trainers Nicky Henderson and Jessica Harrington, along with jockey Nico De Boinville, discuss their chances at today's big meetings.

Nicky Henderson


2:25 Handicap Hurdle - Colonial Dreams (Nico de Boinville) (14/1 Unibet)
He won over course and distance last March before following up at Market Rasen in a Novices’ Hurdle and I think good ground is the key to him. I thought he ran a good race on his return to action, but he will definitely have needed it as he travelled strongly before blowing up two out and the Handicapper has dropped him a few pounds too. That will have sharpened him up and I think he could be quite competitive in what looks a very suitable race for him.

3:00 Handicap Chase - Divine Spear (Nico de Boinville) (16/1 Unibet)
It’s been a long time in getting him back for various reasons, but he likes it around here and good ground is what he has to have. The ground was very quick at Cheltenham on his return and Nico said he just got outpaced and was feeling the surface coming down the hill. He’s had issues in the past and running down the hill if you’re off the bridle on fast ground at Cheltenham is a dangerous thing and can do plenty of damage so Nico, quite rightly, decided to pull him up. This will be slower ground and a little bit further which will help him so I’m hopeful of a more accomplished performance here.

3:35 G1 Clarence House Chase - Altior (Nico de Boinville)  (1/8 Unibet)
There’s hardly anything else I can add that you don’t already know. Thankfully everything has gone absolutely fine since Kempton and this has always been the target. His jumping was excellent in the Unibet Desert Orchid Chase where some of it was absolutely breath-taking and we’ve done very little with him since. The ground will be absolutely fine and there should be a bit of pace on with Fox Norton in the field so we should get a decent race. He will have a break after this and we’ll freshen him up for the Champion Chase and then we can think about some other spring targets further down the line.

4:05 Novices’ Hurdle - Downtown Getaway (Nico de Boinville)  (8/11 Unibet)
We’ve always held this horse in quite high regard and I thought he ran a good race on debut at Newbury last month when he made a mess of the third last but did well to recover and get himself back in the game. I’m not quite sure how strong the form is because Tidal Flow was well beaten at Warwick last Saturday but our horse is in great form and will have come on plenty for that first run. He’ll get further in time but this looks a perfect opportunity and I think he must have a great chance. Put it this way, I’m as happy with this horse as I was before Mister Fisher won at Kempton so let’s hope my confidence is justified.


2:05 G2 Novices’ Hurdle - Mister Fisher (James Bowen) (5/6 Unibet)
Everyone knows how much I adore this horse as he’s the most handsome individual you’ll ever see and is slowly but surely getting there. He bolted up in a Bumper at Kempton last March and then we shouldn’t have run him on atrocious ground at Aintree, but he’s come back this season a much stronger person and I was particularly impressed with his win over Christmas. I think he is a genuine two mile horse and the way he quickened up last time is testament to that. He has to carry a penalty for that success, but he won easily enough and hopefully it won’t be enough to stop him. I wouldn’t worry about the track and I’ve been very happy with him at home so as long as the ground stays on the quicker side I’m very hopeful he can continue on an upward trajectory. If he is going to be running in races like the Supreme he needs to be winning races like this.

Nico De Boinville at Chepstow.

Nico De Boinville


2.25pm - Colonial Dreams (14/1 Unibet)
He didn’t run up to his best over 2m5f at Christmas at Kempton last time, and didn’t finish his race off as well as it looked like he was going to at one stage. Maybe he needed it a bit more than we thought - that was his first run since May , after all - and at least he has been dropped 2lb for it and he is also stepping down a couple of furlongs, which may suit him better. He is a course and distance winner who will enjoy the ground and I think a mark of 129 underestimates his talent. I am expecting a better run from him here.

3.00pm - Divine Spear (16/1 Unibet)
He clearly disappointed on his return at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, when I was never really happy with him at any stage. But horses have off-days, like us all, and he has a similar profile to Colonial Dreams in that he has been dropped 2lb and returns to a course that he has won at. Indeed, if he returns to the form of his win over 2m1f here last season then he would have an excellent chance. He clearly has to show a lot more than at Cheltenham last time, though. The ground was maybe too quick for him at Cheltenham, so we are hoping for a bit of rain for him.

3.35pm - Altior (1/8 Unibet)
It’s obviously disappointing for all concerned that there are only three runners in the Clarence House, but we can’t influence that. And it is a similar story when it comes to assessing Altior again, I am afraid. Basically nothing new to report. I do think he has been hugely impressive in differing ways in his two victories this season though, really toughing it out to beat Un De Sceaux in the Tingle Creek and then showing far more exuberance when easing clear of today’s rival Diego Du Charmil in the Unibet Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton. It really was some thrill to ride him there. Christmas didn’t go to plan for all our horses, but he eased away any blues at Kempton. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact what a good horse Fox Norton was a couple of years ago and, as ever, you are a fool if you go into any race over-confident. But we know how good Altior is, and everything looks in place for him yet again.

4.05pm - Downtown Getaway (8/11 Unibet)
He came to us from Ireland with a fair reputation, and a price tag to accompany it, after winning his bumper impressively. And, although he was beaten at Newbury on his debut for us and the winner was well beaten at Warwick last week, we had to be delighted with that run. He did remarkably well to get back into the race after a bad mistake there, so the promise of that performance was there for all to see. We think a fair bit of him, and hopefully he can show that here, for all that it looks a decent race.

Jessica Harrington at Sandown.

Jessica Harrington


1.50 - Magic Of Light (10/3 Unibet)
She has done very well for us this season, winning a listed mares chase on her latest start at Newbury by fourteen lengths. She hasn’t run over hurdles since 2017, and I’d love to get some more black type for her. Despite the small field, it won’t be easy, but with Robert in Ascot, it makes sense to bring her over. She has improved this season and I have been very happy with her on the lead up to this race, and Ascot will help us determine future plans for her. She is in great form and hopefully she’ll run very well.

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Saturday's expert quotes - Henderson, De Boinville and Harrington discuss their runners with Unibet

Via their blog with bookmakers Unibet, Nicky Henderson, Nico De Boinville and Jessica Harrington discuss their runners at Ascot and Haydock on Saturday 19th January.

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