Nicky Henderson warmed up for big Saturday with sparkling treble at Ascot
Nicky Henderson was in sparkling form at Ascot on Friday, firing in a treble including a Royal winner in Close Touch.
Last Updated: 23/11/12 5:06pm
Her Majesty, who only has a small handful of National Hunt horses in training, has been successful at this track in the past with the likes of Barbers Shop, Gold Award and First Love, and there is every chance the runner in her scarlet and purple silks will soar to greater heights.
The 4-7 favourite had been taken as far afield as Market Rasen and Fakenham for his previous two victories, in a bumper and a hurdle, but he and the rest of the field spotted Loyaute a lead of almost 30 lengths which lasted until the second-last flight.
Close Touch took over and eventually mastered Fair Trade by two and a half lengths under Barry Geraghty, with Lordofthehouse paying the penalty for another of his now customary slow starts back in fourth.
"These introductory races are great for a horse like this, you just have a 5lb penalty for winning and it's a nice place for the Queen to have a winner," said Henderson, who took the race last year with promising chaser Broadbackbob.
"He didn't mind the ground, he has quite a round action, and we've always thought he was nice. We'll tip-toe, I'd think. They learn a lot at a place like Fakenham, and he's going to be a chaser in time."
Minella Class (7-4 favourite) ensured Henderson and Geraghty took the David & Toni Eyles Beginners' Chase for the third year running while Petit Robin (15-8 favourite) repelled stablemate First In The Queue to complete the treble in the finale.