Nicky Henderson was delighted with Might Bite, Santini and On The Blind Side as three members of his powerful team for Cheltenham enjoyed a schooling session at Newbury racecourse on Sunday morning.
The Seven Barrows trainer got some much-needed practice into the staying chase trio ahead of the Festival that starts on Tuesday week, and was relieved to see conditions had turned soft after overnight rain.
“It was a bit different to last night as I took my horse out of the bumper (on Saturday’s card) as I thought the ground was too quick, but it was soft ground this morning after the rain last night,” Henderson told Racing TV’s Luck On Sunday.
“They all jumped 10 fences and then just had a spin up the straight. It was great.
“I needed to get something into them, especially the two novices, Santini and On The Blind Side, and it was just as much for Might Bite as well.
“They jumped the fences down the back twice and then we sent them up the straight.”
Might Bite will try to go one better in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup than 12 months ago – but has not fired in two runs in the Betfair Chase and King George Chase this season.
“Might Bite is in very good order. He has to bounce back and we were very pleased with him,” said Henderson.
“His work has been very good the last couple of weeks and today was great.
“He’s in great shape. We tinkered with his wind again and it usually does help them when you do that.”
Santini and On The Blind Side are both set for the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase. The former is ante-post favourite at 3-1, while On The Blind Side is also prominent in the betting at around 14-1.
“Santini was good. I would have liked to have run in the Reynoldstown at Ascot but we were forced out of that so that is what we were doing today,” said Henderson.
“He’s in good shape. He is a big horse. He does take quite a lot of work so we’ve has to press a little bit and today was a big step forward.
“He won’t need to do an awful lot more now.”
Santini made a winning debut over the bigger obstacles at Newbury and was not disgraced when third to the brilliant mare La Bague Au Roi in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
On The Blind Side opened his account at Kempton in January after disappointing first time over fences at Cheltenham, which Henderson regrets doing.
“It was my mistake – two and a half miles round Cheltenham. I keep saying I won’t run horses at Cheltenham first time over fences,” he said.
“I thought he’s good it won’t worry him. Well, it did worry him.
“When he went to Kempton, he takes a little bit of warming up. He was a bit the same just over the first couple of fences today, but the second time he was really good.”