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Big weekend ahead for Henderson at Cheltenham

Nicky Henderson's name doesn't pop up on the Paddy Power Gold Cup roll of honour quite as often as you would imagine.

In fact, Henerdson's 2003 winner Fondmort was his sole triumph in the Cheltenham feature that signals a return to the jump season proper, but the man who will be gunning to regain the champion trainer crown across the water may well defy many stats to win one of the first big pots of the campaign.

Carrying 11st or more to victory in the Paddy Power Gold Cup isn't really the done thing, with only three horses managing to do so in the last 11 runnings of the race, but we could be about to watch another buck the trend tomorrow.

Al Ferof in 2012 was the only horse to haul more than 11st since Exotic Dancer in 2006 and Fondmort was just shy of it with 10st13lbs when he obliged under Mick Fitzgerald but in Oscar Whisky, Henderson looks to have a horse that is a cut above the rest of his 18-rivals and despite the burden of top weight, he is selected to come out on top.

Jamie Snowden's Present View has been the subject of plenty of support in the build- up to the race and his form suggests that he'll definitely be in with a shout and still there as they turn to come up the famous hill, but Oscar Whisky has done very little wrong in his chasing career and can also give Barry Geraghty a second win in the race following on from Cyfor Malta in 2002.

Sunday's Greatwood Hurdle will see Geraghty again combine with Henderson as he misses the ride on Jezki at Punchestown to partner top weight Vaniteux and he is the 3/1 favourite.

Willie Mullins' Clondaw Warrior is at the other end of the handicap and is the second favourite and although relatively short in the betting for what he has done so far, he does warrant plenty of respect.

Clondaw Warrior gets in at the bottom of the weights in the 17-runner field and did win a bumper around Cheltenham in his earlier days so will have a good chance with David Casey onboard.

At Punchestown on Sunday, the clash of Jezki and Hurricane Fly is sure to divide opinion and with the ground undoubtedly favouring Hurricane Fly many will be thinking he can make it Grade One win number 20.

Personally, Hurricane Fly is one of my all-time favourites and it would be great to see him win a 20th, but Jezki looks to be king of that division now and will probably again confirm that on Sunday.


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