News Jenkins spearheads five-strong team as Nicky Henderson eyes sixth Betfair win

Jenkins spearheads five-strong team as Nicky Henderson eyes sixth Betfair win


A reformed Jenkins heads a five-strong team for Nicky Henderson as the champion trainer bids for a sixth victory in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury.

It is 20 years since the Seven Barrows handler first claimed the lucrative handicap with Sharpical and he has since added to his tally with dual winner Geos (2000 and 2004), Landing Light (2001) and My Tent Or Yours (2013).

This year's team is headed by Jenkins, who has been considered a top-class prospect by his trainer since making a successful debut in a Newbury bumper almost two years ago.

Henderson said: "The day he ran in his bumper, you could have what you liked on him. He was a very good young horse, but things went wrong in Ireland when he should have won the Land Rover bumper."

Jenkins' first season over hurdles last term was seriously underwhelming and his first couple of starts of the current campaign were not much of an improvement.

However, the application of blinkers appears to have turned his career around and he returns to Newbury on a hat-trick following recent wins at Kempton and Ascot.

"I was losing a bit of faith in him, but it has sort of been fairly well restored," said Henderson.

"He never turned up once last season. He never showed me anything. His work was appalling and his schooling was even worse.

"He fell in at Newbury the first time. It was still a dreadful performance and he never jumped a hurdle. He went to Kempton and got murdered and he was awful. He went to a diabolical contest at Ffos Las and he won jumping appallingly.

"I think he grew a lot over the summer and I think he went through a growing pains season. He came back in and from the word go it was perfectly obvious he was a different horse.

"We went straight out to school him and blow me down, he can jump - it was brilliant.

"I was therefore disappointed to start with I had to put blinkers on. We put them on and he has made the running in them, but he has been very good."

Jenkins is ably supported by four talented stablemates in this weekend's feature event.

Nico de Boinville takes the ride on Kayf Grace, who won on her latest appearance at Kempton, while Lough Derg Spirit makes his first appearance since finishing second behind the ill-fated London Prize in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton in November under Jerry McGrath.

Henderson has booked dual Irish champion jockey Davy Russell to partner Verdana Blue and Ned Curtis claims 5lb off Charli Parcs.

Henderson added: " Kayf Grace always struggles with muscle enzymes and it is very hard to control them, but she is a very talented mare and she is a very slick jumper. I've never had her muscle enzymes more under control.

"Lough Derg Spirit works very well. He is probably a better horse on better ground and this has always been the objective.

"Verdana Blue doesn't want to be in front too long, but she will travel well through the race and she is a very good filly. O n very fast ground she would be deadly.

"Good ground is important to Charli Parcs, but his work is excellent."