Henderson has his House in order for Cotswold test

Beaten King George favourite Chantry House bids to restore his big reputation in the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday.

A winner of five of his six chase starts heading to Kempton Park, including at the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals, it did not go as hoped in the Boxing Day showpiece and he was pulled up by Nico de Boinville.

The Nicky Henderson-trained, JP McManus-owned eight-year-old will be equipped with cheekpieces for the first time.

Chantry House bids to bounce back in the Cotswold Chase
Chantry House bids to bounce back in the Cotswold Chase (David Davies/PA)

Henderson said: “We sort of mooted it a little it before the King George and we just thought that it might be a good idea to use them.

“We schooled him on Thursday morning and they just help him concentrate.

“That was the problem in the King George – they jumped off and went a gallop he hadn’t been before.

“I don’t expect that will necessarily be the case on Saturday with a small field, but it is just to sharpen his pencil a little bit.”

With the Paul Nicholls-trained Simply The Betts, former Gold Cup runner-up Santini and the Harriet Graham-trained Aye Right among the five-runner field, Chantry House might not have things his own way.

Aye Right is the only last-time-out winner in the line-up, having successfully conceded 10lb to subsequent Rowland Meyrick winner Good Boy Bobby at Newcastle in the Rehearsal Chase.

Graham said: “We went up another pound after that (to 159), which is one of the reasons we went to Cheltenham rather than Doncaster, as we don’t want him to lug top weight again.

“We are excited about taking on Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson in their back yard, but he has got every right to go there. He is obviously carrying a penalty, but we are much more level on weights if the handicapper has got it right.

“We are hopeful, but the ground is quick for January. He has won on all sorts of ground but in an ideal world, a little bit softer would have been nice. Cheltenham will do a fantastic job with the ground, anyway.”

Simply The Betts is classy at his best
Simply The Betts is classy at his best (Tim Goode/PA)

Simply The Betts was second in a Cheltenham handicap on New Year’s Day and tries three miles plus for just the second time, on what is his fourth start for Nicholls.

The Ditcheat trainer told Betfair: “He has an excellent record at Cheltenham and was close to his best last time when he stayed on strongly all the way to the line to finish a close second to Vienna Court after being up with the leaders most of the way.

“Harry Cobden felt we shouldn’t be afraid to have another go at three miles given that the ground was bottomless when we did try it at Liverpool early in December. If Simply The Betts is going to get the trip this is the ground he will do it on. He is right in the mix.”

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