NICKY HENDERSON is no stranger to a double… and no doubt he enjoyed a few large ones after a money-spinning day at Newbury.
The six-time champ saddled Shishkin to win the Denman Chase before Iberico Lord bagged the £155,000 Betfair Hurdle barely an hour later.Shishkin returned to form at Newbury as Nicky Henderson enjoyed a big-race double[/caption]
This track has always been a happy hunting ground for Hendo, who trains just 18 miles up the road at Seven Barrows in Lambourn.
And he will be hoping the 10-1 double will tee him up for a big spring, with the Cheltenham Festival just a few weeks away.
That meeting is the next stop for Shishkin after he returned to form under his old pal Nico de Boinville.
The pair of them parted company two out in the King George on Boxing Day when still in the lead – just a few weeks after he’d refused to race at Ascot.
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He made no mistake this time, though he was left unchanged at 9-1 with Coral for the Gold Cup, with Galopin Des Champs still a red-hot favourite at 4-5.
A defiant Hendo said: “Shishkin will go to the Gold Cup and we will give it a real go against Willie’s horse.
“He has looked impressive but we seem to have our horse back to his best and he has put his early season troubles well behind him.”
And he was bouncing after winning the Betfair Hurdle for a record sixth time with Iberico Lord, Templegate’s big-race Nap.
The JP McManus-owned six-year-old (11-2) came from off the pace to mow down L’Eau Du Sud (28-1) and could now have a crack at the County Hurdle.
Hendo added: “This horse looked very ordinary earlier in his career but he has really made huge strides.
“He ran no sort of race at Ascot before Christmas but he has been progressive before that and it’s good to see him back.”
Another fan favourite rediscovered his mojo earlier on the card when Edwardstone ran them into the ground in the Game Spirit Chase.
He had looked a shadow of himself in recent starts but roared back to form under a ballsy, front-running ride from Tom Cannon.
The jockey grinned: “I was tempted after he was second in the Tingle Creek to change tactics on him and make the most of his speed.
“I wasn’t in control for parts of the race to be honest! But he really locked on and enjoyed himself, it was a great buzz.”
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