No trainer has won the Arkle at Cheltenham more than Nicky Henderson and he appears to have another live contender in the form of Brain Power for 2018.
The Seven Barrows handler unleashed the six-year-old for the first time over fences at Kempton on Monday where he duly romped to a 28-length success in a two-mile, two-furlong novice contest.
It was a pleasing display, with some electric jumping fused with a clear ability to put himself right when not quite fencing perfectly.
It made a positive impact on those watching on while both Henderson and jockey David Mullins were delighted with Brain Power, now trading at 17/2 to win the Arkle at Cheltenham in March.
The master of Seven Barrows has won the race six times, with recent triumphs by Sprinter Sacre (2012), Simonsig (2013) and Altior (2017) putting him out in front as the most successful trainer in the two-mile novice championship contest.
“He’s very good and a huge talent,” said Henderson of Brain Power. “He’s grown up and we let him bowl along – he will have learned a lot. The Arkle is the ultimate objective and we’ll more than likely go the Altior route.
“He was a genuine Champion Hurdle horse but David said fences are the making of him. He was listening to his rider.”
The Kempton display looked impressive to the eye and the winning rider revealed it was every bit as good on board.
Mullins said Brain Power is the best novice he has been on and he too shares the champion trainer’s belief that dropping to two miles for the Arkle would be a solid target.
The rider said: “He didn’t do anything stupid. He used to get a little bit ignorant at his hurdles but he makes a proper shape over a fence.
“He doesn’t get too high and is just perfect. His mind is made up and you just go with it. In a novice chase it’s definitely the best feel I’ve had and hopefully he can progress into being an Arkle horse.”
Footpad, trained by Willie Mullins, is the 11/2 ante-post favourite for the Racing Post Arkle at Cheltenham after impressing on his chase bow while Petit Mouchoir is 9/1 to give trainer Henry De Bromhead a second win in the race after future Champion Chase winner Sizing Europe scored in 2010.
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