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Henderson sitting pretty with enviable team for Lanzarote Hurdle

| 09.01.2014

Nicky Henderson has won the Lanzarote Hurdle twice before and the champion trainer returns five-handed in a bid to bring to the prize back to Seven Barrows for the second year running.

Spearheading the Lambourn assault is impressive recent Ascot winner Royal Boy (7/1) who justified favouritism when scooting clear of some well thought of rivals just before Christmas.

However, the seven-year-old also holds an entry in the rescheduled Tolworth Hurdle at the same meeting so backers may have to wait and see before investing.

On the other hand the Michael Buckley-owned duo of River Maigue (9/1) and Minella Forfitness (12/1) look certain to take their chance.

After scoring on three of his first five outings the winning line has been more elusive for the former of the two although he was pitched into some serious company on his final two runs of the last campaign understandably finding it tough against the extra smart Far West and Champagne Fever.

A return to the course in December wasn’t a disaster when only a couple of places and two and a half lengths behind in a decent race at Sandown but there are understandable doubts about how much of his early promise has been retained.

Minella Forfitness also looks set to run and with Buckley’s charge having won five of his eight starts it is no surprise to see him given another opportunity to win a big pot.

A reversal last time when sent off  as the 2/1 favourite will have dampened some enthusiasm but that was all the way back in April last year and he boasts a 100% record in seasonal reappearances.

Lyvius and Gibb River make up the rest of the quintet coming down from Berkshire, quoted at 20/1 and 25/1 respectively.

The former was badly found out half-way through last season when many lengths behind in The Ladbroke and Betfair Hurdle and although returning to some sort of form when second last time it would be major surprise if he was able to land a blow.

Gibb River looks to have an even tougher ask after only able to finish ninth on his last start in weaker company.

Ultimately Henderson has an enviable hand as he attempts to win the race again and it would be no surprise to see more than one of his runners fighting out the finish as the final flight of timber is jumped.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Sam Foster