More to come from Champ according to Henderson

Champ landing the RSA at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival

Nicky Henderson believes there is much more to come from Cheltenham Festival winner Champ as he reflected on the eight-year-old’s unbelievable RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase win.

Named in honour of 20-time champion jockey AP McCoy, Champ looked well beaten when eight lengths behind Minella Indo and Allaho going over the last, but showed an extraordinary burst of speed to surge home and land the Grade 1 event on the second day of the meeting.

Champ is a top-priced 14-1 chance with Coral, Ladbrokes, Sky Bet and Betfred for the 2021 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup – a race which will be his key target next season.

Henderson, reflecting on Champ’s Cheltenham win, said: “My biggest problem is my eyesight and I didn’t really see what was happening. I thought he would finish third and that was that. I watched him jump the last through binoculars then went to see who was winning the battle up front.

“All of a sudden Champ just appeared on the scene but I didn’t know he’d taken off. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. To come back from a fall on his previous start was remarkable. There’s definitely more to come and we’ll be working hard on his schooling.”

Henderson had four winners at the Cheltenham Festival, including in Tuesday’s featuring Unibet Champion Hurdle with the improving Epatante. JP McManus’ talented mare ran out a comfortable three-length winner and is a 4-1 chance for next year’s race.

“Plenty of people picked holes in Epatante and questioned how she goes at Cheltenham,” Henderson added. “I was aware of that too. She absolutely fell to pieces within a fortnight of the festival last year and I think she was affected by the fact we had to vaccinate our horses so close to it.

“She looked magnificent when she came back to us and her victory was testament to JP [McManus] and his team. He was without the winner of the last three Champion Hurdles and yet he was still able to look into his little box and golly gosh, he pulled out another one.”

Of Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Shishkin, he said: “Only a good horse could get out of the trouble Shishkin did. To get back anywhere near it after the second-last when he was taken into the car park shows how good he is. We’ve had a few Supreme horses that have gone on and hopefully he can do the same.”

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