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Henderson mystified after Willmount given a clean bill of health as highly-rated hurdler set to return to two miles

Nicky Henderson has said that Willmount has a clean bill of health following a series of tests and checks on Monday.

The highly-rated six-year-old, who came out on top in two Doncaster bumpers for Neil Mulholland before owner Olly Harris moved him to Seven Barrows, made a winning start to life in West Berkshire but was pulled up three hurdles from home in his most recent outing in Newbury's Grade 1 Challow Hurdle.

The Blue Bresil gelding appeared to find the soft ground tough going, although Henderson later refuted that suggestion; the legendary Lambourn handler admitted he was unsure exactly what was behind Willmount's struggles and suggested he would return to two miles ahead of his next outing.

Henderson confirmed that Willmount is set to return to two miles after being pulled up at Newbury. Picture by Phil Cannings
Henderson confirmed that Willmount is set to return to two miles after being pulled up at Newbury. Picture by Phil Cannings

"The answer is that there's a lot I'm not sure of," he said.

"We've been doing various things which have come up with nothing. It leaves us a bit more mystified than we'd ideally have liked but at least we know there's nothing wrong. That's all we can do.

"We can find nothing; we were looking for one thing in particular and all I can say is that there's nothing there whatsoever.

"The conclusion has to be just to crack on. We'll definitely come back to two miles."

Meanwhile, Jeriko Du Reponet further strengthened his Supreme Novices' Hurdle claims as he maintained his 100 per cent record with a solid performance at Newbury's final fixture of last year.

With jockey James Bowen under strict instructions to keep the Choeur Du Nord gelding from opening up a lead on the pack, the 2/5 favourite showed a handy turn of foot as he finished a length-and-three-quarters clear of Hughie Morrison's Secret Squirrel, who was unbeaten in three starts prior to the race.

Henderson, who has attempted to manage expectations after the five-year-old was cut to as short as 5/1 for March's Supreme, admitted he was impressed with the talented novice.

"He's a very impressive horse, a beautiful looking horse," he said.

"He's only had two runs but he's made it look very, very easy both times.

"I'm not sure he beat anything in the first race but I thought last time he did.

"We purposely did not want them to go too quickly; it would've been easy to go out there and make the running but he's not going to learn anything doing that.

"We wanted James to help him learn about racing. He was very good, he sat and sat and sat and sat with two horses on his tail.

"He's not a speed horse; I think he's a fantastic chaser in the making. Three of them jumped the last together but I thought the way he quickened up was really impressive.

"He's not built like a horse that's going to change gear and disappear, but that he did.

"He certainly needs another run but it's hard to find where he's going to go. I'd think he might have to go two-and-a-half miles on Trials Day; that's quite possible."

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