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Horse Racing - Racing: Mersey Novices' the likely route for Walking On Air

Nicky Henderson is lining up the Mersey Novices' Hurdle for Walking On Air after running out of time with preparations for the Cheltenham Festival.

Henderson has amassed a brilliant team of novice hurdlers this season, boasting two of the leading contenders for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in Tolworth winner Constitution Hill, who is 2/1 to win that race and two-time Grade 2 victor and 9/2 chance Jonbon.

Impressed at Newbury

Walking On Air emerged as another ace in the novice pack when bolting up at Newbury by 13 lengths in January, a race the trainer had won 12 months earlier with expensive purchase Gallyhill.

Owned by Mrs Doreen Tabor, the five-year-old son of Walk In The Park had only run once in a bumper the previous season when he finished second to the smart Gary Moore-trained Shallwehaveonemore.

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Walking On The Air had been touted as a Ballymore Novices' Hurdle contender by Henderson, who recently described him as "classy", but he now appears set to be aimed at Aintree rather than the Cheltenham Grade 1 on 16th March.


"We'll probably swerve Cheltenham," the trainer revealed on Saturday when asked about Walking On Air. "I'd have thought that's what we'll do as it's been a bit of a rush.

"I'll talk to Mr and Mrs Tabor and we'll decide any minute now, but in all probability he'll miss that and head for Aintree and the two-and-a-half-mile novice hurdle there."

Henderson, who has landed the Mersey Novices' Hurdle twice with Spirit Son (2011) and Simonsig (2012), could still be represented in the Ballymore with Constitution Hill, I Am Maximus, Jonbon, Russian Ruler and Surrey Quest all entered in Wednesday's opening race at the Cheltenham Festival.

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