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Henderson and Nicholls clash in Adonis at Kempton

Updated: Friday, 22 Feb 2013 19:14 | Comments

Irish Saint (blue and pink) represents Paul Nicholls' Ditcheat team in the Adonis
Irish Saint (blue and pink) represents Paul Nicholls' Ditcheat team in the Adonis

Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls have used the Racing UK Subscribe For Cheltenham Adonis Juvenile Hurdle to unearth a Triumph winner in recent years and both are trying to bolster their squads again at Kempton on Saturday.

As has been the case in their battles all season, Britain's top two trainers are hard to separate in the Triumph betting, with Henderson's Rolling Star and Nicholls' Far West generally the joint-favourites at this stage.

Of the last six runnings of the Adonis, Henderson has landed half with Triumph hero Soldatino and subsequent champion hurdlers Punjabi and Binocular, and this time he fields Vasco Du Ronceray and Courtesy Call.

The former scored on his British debut at Hereford before going down to Far West at Cheltenham and Kashmir Peak at Doncaster, while Courtesy Call makes his jumping bow.

A prolific middle-distance performer for Mark Johnston, he last ran off 86 when second in the Cesarewitch Trial at Newmarket.

"I want to get a run into them both, and they are both in the Triumph," said Henderson.

"Courtesy Call is a good horse and just I haven't been able to run him.

"He isn't very big but he jumps very well.

"He had a busy Flat campaign and has to have good ground, so there was no point in asking him to do anything in that (soft) ground."

Nicholls, whose Champion Hurdle hope Zarkandar collected the Adonis in 2011, saddles Irish Saint.

He has a course and distance victory to his name already but came off worst in basically a match with Rolling Star at Cheltenham.

"Irish Saint is a different type of horse to Far West, he's more of a chaser but he has got decent form," said Nicholls.

"The idea was to go Kempton and then Aintree but if he won and was impressive, then he could still go (to Cheltenham)."

Alan King is another trainer to have used the Adonis to good effect, as his first Triumph winner Penzance lifted the race back in 2005.

King is hoping his runner L'Unique might follow the example of two very fine fillies who managed the double.

Yet another import from across the Channel, L'Unique is unbeaten in two starts, including one over the course and distance.

"She has done nothing wrong since arriving from France, winning twice impressively, but we are going up in class and this will tell us whether she is a genuine Triumph Hurdle contender or whether we should lower our sights and aim for the Fred Winter," King told his website.

"L'Unique schooled on Monday morning and is in very good form and, while the experts appear not to be keen on fillies for the Triumph, Mysilv and Snow Drop did OK, so we shall see."

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