Champion Hurdle hope has hoof ‘puncture’
The seven-year-old gelding, eased from 7-2 to 9-2 for next Tuesday’s race, has had his shoe removed and the Seven Barrows team are currently assessing the problem before deciding on exactly how to treat it.
Henderson said: “We have had to take his shoe off and he has a discreet puncture wound in the sole. It’s tender right now, but it’s rather new so it’s bound to be sore. He’s finished all his work, he galloped on Saturday so I’m not worried work-wise.
“No trainer wants a problem at this stage, though. We are all praying for a trouble-free run but we don’t seem to be getting one across the board. We’ve got all the experts here and we are working on it at the moment, it’s just a matter of what we do and we will update everyone later.”
Willie Mullins, meanwhile will be taking the same security precautions as always as he sends his strongest-ever team over to the Festival next week.
The Closutton maestro expects to take around 40 horses to the home of National Hunt racing but admits the threat of one of his horses being drugged is never far from his thoughts.
Mullins recalled riding a horse trained by his father, Dawn Run’s trainer Paddy Mullins, which had been drugged by a gang in the 1980s. “In any major sport, not only horse racing, there is a risk of knowledge if someone can dope or nobble a major player or team, then they can sell that information or use it themselves and it is just something we are aware of all the time,” said Mullins.
“We’re probably more aware of it in racing than other sports but no more so than a major soccer team going abroad who will take care of their own food and accommodation, they keep people away from them and we are the same with horses, you’ve got to be on your guard all the time.
“We’ll have the security we always have, without going into any details, but we always have it – it’s not just this year. Going back to the time of Dawn Run, when you have a really major player going across you always have concerns. I don’t think a lot of Irish people have the same concerns or make much of a fuss, but it is always something that we think about when we are going.”
The British Horseracing Authority is responsible for security at the racecourse stables. “BHA works closely with Cheltenham Racecourse regarding security in the racecourse stables and it is a matter of paramount importance as part of our raceday integrity operation,” said BHA spokesman Robin Mounsey. “The site is monitored by BHA Equine Welfare Integrity Officers 24 hours a day from a period well in advance of and during the Festival.
“The site is comprehensively monitored by a CCTV system as well as regular patrols of the stable yard. Should anyone have any concerns about the wellbeing or performance of a horse then the flexibility in our testing procedures allows for those horses to be sampled, either pre or post-race.”
Meanwhile, Stand Guard equalled the record of 25 wins on an all-weather surface when successful at Southwell yesterday. The John Butler-trained 10-year-old joined China Castle, who set the standard in 2001, with an emphatic eight-length victory in the seller. Under Tom Queally, the 10-11 favourite sat at the rear of the quartet in the early stages then quickly pulled away to score easily.