NICKY Henderson expressed his pre-Cheltenham satisfaction after working several of his Festival contenders - including the brilliant Altior - in what has become an annual gallops morning at Kempton.

The Seven Barrows maestro sent a strong team to work in resplendent sunshine at the Sunbury circuit, with Altior - who will be long odds-on to defend his Queen Mother Champion Chase crown - joined by Cheltenham Gold Cup hope Might Bite and Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle favourite Champ, among others.

Might Bite and Champ completed a lap of the track together - along with the popular Top Notch - while Altior stretched clear of stablemates Theinval and River Wylde in his workout.

Henderson told The Jockey Club: “I think that was good - I’m delighted, to be fair.

“As long as they all finish together and nobody has dropped out (I’m happy). They all finished together, although not surprisingly Altior did finish a fair bit ahead of his two (galloping companions). You’d be expecting that.

“Barney (Clifford, clerk of the course at Kempton) is great, and I’m very appreciative. This is something we’ve done every year - it’s worked in the past - and it’s just a nice little away-day for them.

“It was nothing dramatic, but it was a good gallop over two miles.

“I think they’ve all come through it well. Nothing has worked badly - which is the first important thing.

“Some needed it a bit more than others, but overall everyone was very happy -and it all went quite like clockwork.”

Elsewhere this week there was an upset as Verdana Blue suffered a surprise defeat to Gumball in the 32Red Casino Novice Stakes at Kempton Park.

Lambourn trainer Henderson saddled his promising seven-year-old on the flat after being denied a preparation run ahead of next month’s Cheltenham Festival.

But it was the Philip Hobbs-trained Gumball – ridden by Oisin Murphy – that claimed the spoils, racing wide of the others in the initial stages before coming over to lead with a clear advantage.

Luke Morris had settled the Nicky Henderson-trained hotpot in third, but when Gumball (4-1) and Murphy kicked the mare soon found herself with work to do.

Try as she might, the 1-3 favourite could never quite get on terms and was still a length and three-quarters down at the line.

Elsewhere for Lambourn and Wiltshire trainers this week, Warren Greatrex was left encouraged by the performance of promising novice hurdler Emitom – who won by three-quarters of length in a class four novice hurdle at Newbury yesterday.

Under Gavin Sheehan, the race appeared to have slipped away for the five-year-old as Interconnected challenged on the nearside.

But a gutsy finish saw Greatrex’s charge battle back on the far-side.