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Article 24th January 2024 Huntingdon

By Graham Clark

Nicky Henderson hopes Steal A March can make up for lost time in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle series qualifier at Huntingdon tomorrow (Thursday 25th January) and move a step closer to giving His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen a runner at The Cheltenham Festival.                                                                                                                              

The nine-year-old had been in line to become the Royal couple’s first runner at Jump racing’s flagship meeting last year after winning a series qualifier for the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle at Wincanton on Boxing Day in 2022. 

However, those plans were dashed after the gelded son of Mount Nelson, who won at Worcester on the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend in June 2022, was forced to miss an outing in the three-mile contest after a late setback in the run up to The Festival.  

And although Steal A March could only finish fifth at Newbury on his recent return to action over an extended two and a half miles Henderson believes the Royal representative will take a good step forward for that effort going back up in trip under Nico de Boinville tomorrow.

Henderson said: “Steal A March was going to the Cheltenham Festival last year, and he was all ready for it, but he had a little issue three weeks before which was real bad luck.

“He has got a run under his belt, which is a help, as he needs a huge amount of work. He is a horse that takes plenty of getting ready. 

“I hope he is more ready than the first time as he definitely needed it, but that is him. The step back up in trip to three miles one (furlong) will suit him as well. 

“That was the plan to have Steal A March run at the Cheltenham Festival last year so let’s hope we can do it this year.”

The Seven Barrows handler will also be represented in tomorrow’s three miles and one furlong prize by dual Grade One-winning chaser Chantry House (James Bowen).

After finishing third on his return to hurdles at Cheltenham in October the JP McManus-owned 10-year-old found testing conditions conspiring against him last time out at Sandown Park. 

Henderson added: “This is a good race for Chantry House as it has been a long-term project for him back over hurdles. That ground at Sandown last time was desperate so you have got to excuse him that run. 

“I hope he will be competitive this time as he is still a good horse. He has always been a laidback horse at home, and he is not a horse you would want to judge on his homework, but he seems in very good form. 

“I need them both in this race as I want them both qualified for the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham so we will be trying to win it don’t you worry.”


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