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Article 25th October 2022 Huntingdon

By Graham Clark

Nicky Henderson is keen to unleash 2019 JCB Triumph Hurdle winner Pentland Hills over fences at Huntingdon on Sunday (30th October) with an outing in the Vince 80th Birthday Stakes Novices’ Chase dependent on his participation in a crucial schooling session on Thursday. 

The talented seven year old, is one of six entries received for the extended two mile contest, which has also attracted fellow Grade One-winning hurdler Monmiral from the Paul Nicholls yard. 

Since securing the second of his Grade One triumphs in the 2019 Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree a month after his Cheltenham Festival success, the gelded son of Motivator has been restricted to just four starts.

Having missed the last two Jump seasons, Pentland Hills made his first start in 927 days a successful one returned to the Flat at Haydock Park last month when getting up close home to land the Lee Thomas Christy Handicap over a mile and three quarters. 

Henderson said: “The plan is to probably run him at Huntingdon but we have to school him over fences here on Thursday. We need enough rain down here to be able to do that. If I can’t do that it might make me a bit nervous about going on Sunday. 

“It was great to see him come back and win at Haydock after having such a long time off.

“He did well to get his head in front as it didn’t all go to plan but he is ready to go back over jumps now.”

Despite Pentland Hills having never jumped a fence in public, Henderson is confident the dual Grade One winner will have no problem in adapting to his new discipline.

He added: “He has jumped fences at home and he has been very good in the past. His strength has always been his jumping. 

“He wasn’t rated very highly on the Flat but he took to hurdling really well. He was such a good jumper over hurdles and that really was his strength. 

“In all honesty he probably wants a bit further but Huntingdon is a good track to run anything around, especially novice chasers as it is very fair for them.”

While a setback forced Henderson to make do without the services of Pentland Hills after his ninth place finish in the 2020 Unibet Champion Hurdle at The Festival™, the Lambourn handler remained optimistic he would return to the track at some point.

The six-time champion Jump trainer added “It was a bit frustrating having him out for so long but unfortunately it was one of those things. I hoped that he would come back, which he has done but we just had to be patient 

“He went back to EquiPrep, which is the Elite Racing Club and Owners Group headquarters, where he had his time off before we got him back up and running.

“The Triumph Hurdle win was great for the members of the Owners Group and he has got a big following because of that. Hopefully they can enjoy more success with him now he is back on track.”


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