Nicky Henderson Stable Tour: Cheltenham Festival 2023

Nicky Henderson Horse Trainer

Jake Russell | @JakeRuss1000

Nicky Henderson Stable Tour: Cheltenham Festival 2023

Nicky Henderson is set to send a strong team of horses to Prestbury Park in March and we have taken a look through some of the big names that could see the handler adding to his Cheltenham festival winners tally.

Only Willie Mullins has trained more winners at the meeting than Henderson, but he hasn’t actually won the leading trainers title since 2012, when he clocked up seven winners thanks to victories from the likes of Simonsig, Sprinter Sacre and Bobs Worth.

Those big names are matched by some of Henderson’s stable stars this year, who could be set to take the Festival by storm.


First Street

6yo Bay Gelding 

Target - Champion Hurdle or County Hurdle 

Nicky Henderson has clearly thought quite a bit of this horse, as he has been pitched in a few decent contests of late, including against Jonbon in a Grade 1 at the Aintree Festival last April. He won a Grade 3 on his seasonal debut at Newbury, beating Grivetana by just under 3 lengths, before going on to finish 3rd in a decent renewal of the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham, only to be beaten by Marie's Rock and Dashel Drasher by 6 lengths. However, he has run recently, in the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton, which can usually be a decent Champion Hurdle trial. He was well fancied that day, but did disappoint when finishing 3rd, well beaten by just over 17 lengths. He can be a decent horse on his day, but maybe a step up in trip will bring more out of him.  


9yo Grey Gelding

Target - Stayers Hurdle

The wonderful Grey who is loved by so many racing fans, has had a rough time of late recovering from a pretty serious pelvic injury, but according to his trainer Nicky Henderson he is buzzing at home, and will only be a matter of time before we see him on a racecourse again. A Grade 2 winner at Ascot over 2m3f in November 2021, also he was the Cesarewitch winner for 2021, an excellent performance from him. He has the huge time off the track to overcome should he line up at the festival this year, but the team have always thought of him as a decent staying hurdler in the making, and with his record of four wins in just nine hurdle starts, it is brilliant to see he has recovered from his injury, hopefully he can add something new to the arguably wide open Stayers division going forward.    


9yo Bay Gelding

Target - Ryanair Chase

A horse who was on a bit of a revival mission before contesting in the Ascot Chase, tackling the step up in trip for the first time after two disappointing runs for his standards, all eyes were on him going into the contest. And he certainly bounced right back to form, the two-time Cheltenham Festival winner couldn't have been any more impressive, jumping beautifully to smash his rivals by 16 lengths going away, with last year's winner even further behind by 23 lengths. That performance was decent on the clocks, and his jumping really looked like his best, Nice De Boinville said after just a few fences he could tell this was his day again, and he obliged by winning the race nicely. It now looks as if he will stay at this sort of trip, and with Allaho out of the Ryanair, it looks the perfect opportunity to make it three wins at the Festival, he is most certainly the one to beat now with his chase record currently reading 8 wins in just 10 career starts over the bigger obstacles. 


7yo Bay Gelding 

Target - Arkle

One of the stars of the Novice Chasing scene, who has only been beaten once in his whole career, he is set to go to battle with El Fabiolo again (They met at Aintree last season) with three wins in just three runs over Fences this season. An easy winner on Debut at Warwick, he then backed that performance up with an 8-length winner in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices Chase at Sandown. Beating Boothill who has since won and placed in graded contests. He then went back to Warwick where he faced just the one rival, and although that wasn't exactly an eye-catching performance, he jumped nicely and showed his flat speed, to win by 5 lengths and a half-length. That was his first run for 2 months, so the cobwebs would have been blown away, making him more than ready to try and land the Grade 1 Arkle.   

Constitution Hill

6yo Bay Gelding

Target - Champion Hurdle

One of the stars of the National Hunt world at present, unbeaten in all of his rules starts including a Supreme romp at the Festival last season. He has looked even better this year when contesting in the Fighting Fifth and Christmas Hurdle, beating Epatante on both occasions by 17 and 12 lengths. He has absolutely no flaws to his game, he is a clean jumper, strong traveller with a superb engine later on in the race, the perfect racehorse who already has a cult following by the racing fans going into the first championship race of the festival. He arguably tackles a proper championship race for the first time in his career however, but he has looked even more of a superstar this year and will take a very good horse to beat him. He looks set to win another Grade 1 at the Cheltenham Festival and make it a 9th Champion Hurdle victory for his esteemed trainer Nicky Henderson


9yo Bay Mare

Target - Champion Hurdle/Mares Hurdle

The 2020 Champion Hurdle heroine, she is a mare that hasn't ran a bad race since Cheltenham 2019 where she finished 9th, finishing in the top three in every run since then, most of them being at the highest level, including a victory in the Champion Hurdle in 2020. She is ultra consistent and has placed in the last two Champion Hurdles, only beaten by 3 and a half lengths to Honeysuckle last year. She has come up against stable mate Constitution Hill twice this season, well beaten on both starts but running with credit, so it will be hard to see her turn around the form. She does get the mares allowance however, and has some decent Cheltenham form which seems to bring the best out of her, she could run her usually consistent race to fill the places.

Marie's Rock

8yo Mare

Target - Mares Hurdle or Stayers Hurdle

Another Cheltenham Festival winner for the Nicky Henderson yard, she was an excellent winner of this race last season beating Queens Brook by just under 2 lengths, before backing that victory up at the Punchestown Festival, landing the Grade 1 Mares Champion Hurdle beating Stormy Ireland by just over a length. She put in arguably a career best last time out, when coming off a break to win the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham by 6 lengths, asserting up the hill, a time when she wasn't really fancied in the market. The Mares Hurdle this year looks potentially a better race, but judging by her performance last time out there is still more to come, and with her form, she could win this race in back-to-back years. 


5yo Chesnut Mare

Target - Supreme or Mares Novices Hurdle

One of the yards more exciting horses going into the festival, the unbeaten Chesnut has impressed with every start in her short career. Landing both of her bumper starts in style, she has arguably looked even better since going over obstacles this season. She won on debut at Newbury, contesting in a Listed Mares Hurdle, with some experienced rivals in behind, she jumped nicely and when shaken up down the straight, went on to win by just under 6 lengths, with She's A Saint in behind, who has since placed at Grade 2 level. She then had a bit of a break before heading to Exeter, where she again contested in a Listed Hurdle race, absolutely smashing her rivals by an easy 11 lengths. She hardly broke a sweat that day, and is clearly versatile in regards to ground conditions, making her a formidable runner no matter where she goes. No matter the outcome of her race at this year's festival, she is a lovely prospect going forward for the team.  


8yo Bay Mare

Target - Mares Novices Hurdle

A rare flat runner for Nicky Henderson, she was in decent form over the summer, winning two races in a row, before going on to finish 5th in the Cesrewitch at Newmarket in October. She is yet to win over Hurdles in seven starts, but has run some good races in defeat, including a 2nd place finish in this contest last year, only to be beaten by just over a length, and a few placed efforts in Listed mares contests. She was a big price runner at the festival last year, and hasn't exactly backed that up since over hurdles, and did massively disappoint last time out when pulling up at Wincanton. She clearly likes Cheltenham but needs to up her game this year to run well again. 

Walking On Air

6yo Bay Gelding 

Target - Pertemps Final

A horse that has been slightly frustrating to follow, a decent Novice winner at Newbury in January last year, he looked another nice recruit for the team, but hasn't really shown that since, hence why he's aimed at the Pertemps Final instead of anything graded. Beaten on two starts this season, and was sent off fairly short odds, he rewarded his backers with a nice victory at Exeter on the 12th February in a Pertemps Qualifier, beating Sabrina by just over 3 lengths. This step up in trip has clearly suited him, and potentially running off the mark he is, could set him in good stead for this year's festival. 

Steal A March

8yo Bay Gelding 

Target - Pertemps Final

Nicky Henderson has confirmed that he will be having a few runners in this contest this year, and most of them have decent chances. Steal A March runs in the Kings colours and has been in decent form this season, running in two decent contests at Newbury and Wincanton, he qualified for this race by winning in a qualifier at Wincanton last December, beating Stellar Magic by just under a length. He went up 6lb's for that win, which is a fair hike given how he didn't particularly look appealing to the eye, but he stayed on well so Cheltenham will most likely play to his strengths. It would be a grand day should we have a royal winner at Cheltenham

Captain Morgs

7yo Bay Gelding 

Target - Pertemps Final

Another horse that comes off the back of a decent display last time out to qualify for this contest, he was a 7-length winner at Cheltenham in December, where he absolutely relished the step up to 3 miles giving him a new lease of life. He does have some decent form previously, when winning in his Novice days over 2 miles, but recently he has shaped as more of a stayer in the making. He got hiked up 7lbs for his last win, and given the manner of the victory he could be the Henderson horse to side with, with Cheltenham form. He is a solid jumper, who will no doubt be staying on towards the end should all play in his favour.    

Call Me Lord

10yo Bay/Brown Gelding

Target - Pertmps Final

A horse that has qualified for this race on three different occasions, as his trainer said he deserves a medal for just turning up here on all of those occasions. He is the highest rated runner for the team, and comes here off the back of a decent display when finishing 2nd behind Green Book in the qualifier at Sandown a few weeks back. The horse that day hasn't exactly boosted the form since, having disappointed over the weekend, but Call Me Lord is a decently consistent type who always tends to run a decent race. He did pull up in the Coral Cup last year however, but that was on a day where not many horses could cope with the soft conditions, with them getting softer by the minute with each passing rain drop. If the ground stays on the better side this year, and with his peak ratings of 160 plus previously, he could run well of his current mark for loyal connections. 

Balco Coastal

7yo Bay Gelding 

Target - Turners Novices Chase

A horse with some decent previous form, a two-time winner over Hurdles, he has always been thought at as a potential Chaser, and he does look a fairly decent one at that. Although he disappointed on his Chase debut at Newbury last November, he clearly looked like the run was needed, on good conditions that probably were not to suit. He then put that chase debut run to bed, with a classy performance next time out at Kempton, when winning a Novices Handicap Chase by 9 lengths, then confirmed that promise with a 2nd place effort behind Gerri Colombe in the Scilly Isles at Sandown last time out. He looks to be improving with each run still, and is a nice chaser in the making, he could be one to fill the placings in a decent looking affair. 

Mister Coffey

8yo Bay Gelding

Target - National Hunt Chase 

A horse that is clearly a thorough stayer, and he has shown that with his previous form, especially when contesting in the Kim Muir at the Festival last season, when staying on stoutly up the Cheltenham Hill to only be beaten by just over 2 lengths. He was a slightly unlucky looser last time out, when contesting in a 3-mile Handicap Chase at Uttoxeter last weekend, but again he was staying on all the way to the finish. Derek O'Connor was brought over to ride him that day, and Nicky Henderson has said since that it was in preparation for this race. He will tackle this sort of marathon trip for the first time, but judging by previous runs he could thrive off it, and with one of the best amateurs out there potentially booked to ride, he could go well in this stamina test.