Champion trainer Nicky Henderson appears to be more surprised than anyone by the market move behind Jenkins for Sunday’s Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham.
The Seven Barrows inmate is now 9/2 joint-favourite for the competitive two-mile handicap contest which headlines the final day of Cheltenham’s three-day November meeting.
Despite that move, Henderson feels Jenkins is rated at least 10lbs too high on what he has achieved so far, with the Seven Barrows trainer adamant his handicap mark is based on potential rather than achievements.
Jenkins won a Newbury bumper in April 2016 on debut before finishing a close second in a valuable bumper at the Punchestown Festival later the same month, showing his potential as he did.
Last season he managed to defy some sloppy jumping to win two of his three starts over hurdles. He landed a maiden hurdle at Newbury and a novice contest at Ffos Las, either side of an odds-on reverse at Kempton on Boxing Day.
However, nothing he showed last season either at home or on the track leaves his trainer optimistic that he’s on a good handicap mark going to Cheltenham for his reappearance.
“I think he’s too high in the ratings but we’ll have a crack at it [Greatwood],” he said.
“He was awful the day he won at Newbury and he was awful the whole way through the season.
“He couldn’t jump a hurdle at home and he didn’t jump one at Newbury. He got away with it but even his work was rubbish. He was terrible when he ran at Kempton and then ran in the worst race you’ve seen in your life at Ffos Las.”
The trainer doesn’t believe his rating is justified, though he is at least happy to report that Jenkins has been showing more at home ahead of his reappearance.
“Somehow he got to a rating of 137. Where in the world he got that, I don’t know. He’s handicapped on reputation, not on what he achieved. You couldn’t get him to 127 if you tried,” added the trainer.
“I’ll say that, for some extraordinary reason, he seems to be a completely different horse. He wants to jump and he wants to work, so we’re going to start here.”
The Philip Hobbs-trained Defi Du Seuil is 9/2 joint-favourite for the Greatwood Hurdle while popular veteran The New One is 20/1 and on course for the race according to his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies after a win last month in the Welsh Champion Hurdle.
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