Henderson hails hugely-exciting crop of young hurdlers as Willmount gets off the mark in style
Six-time champion jumps trainer Nicky Henderson has said that his current crop of novice hurdlers are amongst the best he's ever had.
The legendary Lambourn handler admits he's expecting a few headaches in the coming months as he looks to keep a number of potential Cheltenham Festival contenders away from one another.
"We are very lucky this year, we've got a lot of really, really nice young horses," he said.
"I think they are a particularly good bunch, which is great as far as the future is concerned.
"They want minding for the future, they're only young. The next difficult bit is deciding where they all go next.
"It's a good position to be in. This group is as good as I've seen for a while."
One of Henderson's highest profile young stars is Willmount, who impressed when winning by 13 lengths on his debut for his new yard at Newbury last week.
The five-year-old won two bumpers at Doncaster for Bath-based trainer Neil Mulholland before owner Olly Harris opted to move the £340,000 star to Lambourn.
And Henderson admits he was pleased with what he saw on Willmount's seasonal reappearance, with the Blue Bresil gelding potentially in line for a tilt at the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in March.
He said: "We were hoping to see something a bit different, and I think we did.
"He's only very young, it was his first run over hurdles, but I've still got to say it was pretty impressive. I was hoping he just might be a bit special, and he didn't disappoint.
"As for the Supreme Novices, he'd get two-and-a-half miles, so we'll see."
Another recent arrival who seems to have generated a lot of excitement is Jeriko Du Reponet.
Sired by Choeur Du Nord, the four-year-old was victorious by 11 lengths on his sole start to date, a point-to-point race in Kirkistown, and was swiftly scooped up by leading owner JP McManus before arriving in Berkshire in August.
"I like him a lot," Henderson said.
"He's one of the ones we haven't run yet. He's probably a fortnight off a run.
"He's a beautiful looking horse. I like what I see."
Meanwhile, Henderson says Under Control is set to begin her campaign in the Coral Bet Bundles Intermediate Handicap Hurdle, formerly the Gerry Feilden Hurdle, at Newbury on December 2.
The four-year-old, out of Doctor Dino, has won four of her first five starts but was a disappointing 20th in the Jack De Bromhead Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in the spring.
Henderson said: "The plan is to go for the Gerry Feilden. We're not going to put any pressure on her, but actually it's where Epatante came out of her novice season. We launched her in the Gerry Feilden and then went straight to the Christmas Hurdle, which was very brave. I'm not going to tell you that's what Under Control is going to do, but that's where we plan to start her.
"I love her. She's a sweet mare, she's a complete honey and she's in great form."
And Henderson, who turns 73 next month, admits having such an exciting crop of young horses in training will keep him going for a while yet.
"The good thing about having all these wonderful young horses at my age is that I've got to keep going for at least another six years to see them through," he said.
"These horses are the future – and so I'm afraid you've got me around for some time still."