‘Our secret weapon’ – Henderson picks his handicapper to watch at the Festival

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Nicky Henderson has a plethora of exciting young horses heading to the Cheltenham Festival but he named a handicap prospect who may not even make the cut as his “secret weapon” at the four-day meeting next month.

The Seven Barrows trainer spoke particularly highly of Doddiethegreat, who is a 12-1 chance for the Coral Cup on March 13 after finishing fourth in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury earlier this month, and Henderson is excited about seeing him step up in trip.

Kenny Alexander’s eight-year-old is named after Scottish rugby star Doddie Weir, who raised awareness and funding to tackle motor neurone disease before dying from the illness in November 2022.

Henderson will have to wait to see if he gets a place in the race when the handicap weights are revealed next Tuesday and said: “He might not get in which really is hurting me as he wouldn’t have got in last season. It’s really sad because he’s crying out for another half a mile.

“He ran a great race at Newbury and I went to bed not worrying about Iberico Lord but looking forward to Doddie in the Coral. He’d be my secret weapon if he did get in.”

Triumph Hurdle favourite Sir Gino leads Henderson’s young talents while the unbeaten Jeriko Du Reponet is on track for the Supreme.

Henderson said: “The Triumph is a tough race and Sir Gino is a big, scopey horse who will jump a fence, he’s not your typical Triumph horse. Sometimes you might have decided to wait another year with him but we’ve got this far, so we may as well keep going.

“Jeriko Du Reponet has been in good form. I think the two-miler [Supreme] is going to be the hot one, but I just need to persuade Ronnie Bartlett [owner of Ballyburn] to run his over two and a half because he promised me he would at Christmas, but they seem to have changed their minds which is very inconvenient. I’m sure Ronnie has the last say!”

Photo: Jonbon having a schooling session

Courtesy of Racing Post