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Bobs Worth and Sir Des Champs renew rivalry in Lexus Chase

Nicky Henderson suffered a major blow when Sprinter Sacre was pulled up with an irregular heartbeat in yesterday’s Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton. Whilst racing fans await further news on the highest rated chaser in training, Henderson hopes for a more encouraging comeback from Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth on Saturday.

Bobs Worth defeated Willie Mullins’s Sir Des Champs by seven lengths at Cheltenham in March, staying on dourly up the hill. He made his seasonal debut in the Betfair Chase at Haydock but finished a disappointing sixth, some 40 lengths adrift of the winner Cue Card.

Henderson and Geraghty both maintain that the horse now needs a stiffer test to show his best form but they must have been expecting a better display. Things did not go any better for Sir Des Champs when he took an early tumble at Punchestown.

He got no further than the third fence on his first outing of the season and his jumping will come under close scrutiny here. 12 months ago he stayed on into fourth in this race, beaten under a length by Tidal Bay in a pulsating finish.

If the big names fail to fire on Saturday, the progressive Unioniste could provide Paul Nicholls with yet another big race victory. He is still celebrating the King George success of Silviniaco Conti and this race will tell us whether or not the grey is a possible Gold Cup candidate.

The form of his victory at Haydock is not outstanding but he jumped better the longer the race went on and could run a big race here. First Lieutenant was only denied by a head in this race last year but seems to be better over two and a half miles.

The card also features the Grade 1 Leopardstown Hurdle which sees Solwhit attempt to get his World Hurdle bid back on track. The nine-year-old was much the best staying hurdler in training last season and should have too much class for Zaidpour and Rule The World.