Nicky Henderson Stable Tour: Cheltenham Festival 2022

Nicky Henderson Stable Tour: Cheltenham Festival 2022

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.

Enjoy!

Champ

10yo bay gelding

Form: 1/2P-12

Target: Stayers’ Hurdle

Won the 2020 RSA Chase here in astonishing fashion but his chasing career stalled somewhat last season, never looking at ease when pulled up early in the Gold Cup. Return to hurdling paid immediate dividends, gaining another Grade 1 success in the Long Walk on his comeback, though was possibly outstayed by Paisley Park in the Cleeve last time. Nevertheless, holds close to this season’s best staying hurdle form.

Chantry House

8yo bay gelding

Form: 111-1P1

Target: Gold Cup

Rather fortuitous in gaining a brace of Grade 1 novice chases at the end of last, including the Marsh Chase here at the Festival. Underwhelming when pulled-up as favourite in the King George over Christmas and was far from convincing when scraping home in the Cotswold here on Trials Day. Despite his fine recent strike rate, he’ll need to improve significantly to win a Gold Cup.

Constitution Hill

5yo bay gelding

Form: 11

Target: Supreme

Flawless winner of both novice hurdling starts to date, quickening clear from the useful Might I on debut before running away with the Tolworth last time, impressing in the manner in which he was able to quicken on bad ground. Still yet to be taken out of his comfort zone against decent rivals and the fact that he’s the current market leader for a red-hot looking renewal of the Supreme tells a story itself.

Dame De Compagnie

9yo bay mare

Form: 19U7-F6

Target: Pertemps Final

Most progressive in 2019/20, ending her season with a Festival win in the Coral Cup. Spell chasing last season didn’t go to plan and she was underwhelming on her return to hurdles when finishing a well-beaten sixth in a Pertemps Qualifier at Wincanton. That entitles her to a place in the Final, though, and connections will be hoping the return to Cheltenham can work the oracle for her.

Dusart

7yo bay gelding

Form: 13-11

Target: Turners/Brown Advisory/Ultima

Half-brother to the mighty Simonsig and has made a fine impression in only four career starts today, shaping like a horse of serious ability amidst inexperience when third in an Aintree Grade 1 novice hurdle at the end of last season. Hasn’t had much to beat in two novice chases so far, sent off at 2-7 on both occasions, and hasn’t convinced with his jumping on either occasion. Entered both the Turners and the Brown Advisory, but also features prominently in the Ultima betting. Untested against Cheltenham-quality rivals but remains a horse with a significant amount of raw potential.

Epatante

8yo bay mare

Form: 1233-11

Target: Champion Hurdle

Champion Hurdler in 2020, though seemed beaten fair and square when third to Honeysuckle in defence of her crown last season. Winner of both her starts in Grade 1 company this season, dead-heated with Not So Sleepy in the Fighting Fifth before producing her best performance for some time to win the Christmas Hurdle. The current UK two-mile hurdling scene is poor, though, and she’d even need to improve significantly on her 2020 victory here to topple Honeysuckle here.

Fils D’Oudairies

7yo bay gelding

Form: 125FF-2

Target: Coral Cup

Useful, but prone to jumping errors, as a novice chaser for Joseph O’Brien last season. Transferred to Henderson at the start of this campaign and ran well when well-backed on his first start in an Ascot handicap hurdle, finishing a clear second to an unexposed sort. Remains with the potential to do better as a hurdler and looks to be amongst the leading British contenders for the Coral Cup, a race in which the yard has a fine record in.

Jonbon

6yo bay gelding

Form: 1-111

Target: Supreme

Full brother to the mighty Douvan and cost £570k after winning his point-to-point, so naturally possessed a big reputation before even making the course. Overcome unsuitably slow gallops to win impressively on his first two hurdles starts and also had the ground against when winning the Rossington Main. Done very little wrong so far, certainly on the way towards justifying his price tag, and merits his place amongst the Supreme market leaders

Marie’s Rock

7yo bay or brown mare

Form: 3-371P1

Target: Mares Hurdle

Looked highly promising in her youth and has begun to put that potential together this season, winning a Kempton handicap on Boxing Day before producing a career-best to win a Listed event at Warwick in February. Potentially has even more to come and certainly ranks an each-way contender for the Mares against the best of the Irish.

Mister Fisher

8yo bay gelding

Form:1PU2-P1

Target: Ryanair Chase

Well established as a Grade 2 performer but remains 0-5 at the top level, better able to cope with Allaho than most for a long way in last season’s Ryanair before eventually pulling up. Ran well up to his best when defeating Eldorado Allen in the Peterborough last time and that would give him frame claims for this season’s renewal. Would need Allaho to underperform to have a winning chance, though.

Shishkin

8yo bay gelding

Form: 1111-11

Target: Champion Chase

The highest-rated horse in training and a truly phenomenal chaser, unbeaten in seven starts over fences (also unbeaten when standing over hurdles, winning the Supreme here in 2020). Looked something out of the ordinary when winning the Arkle last season and has continued his dominance this campaign, winning the Desert Orchid and most recently the Clarence House, getting up in the dying strides to nab another previously-unbeaten chaser in Energumene. The rematch with his Irish-trained rival is rightly billed as the highlight of the Festival, and if Shishkin were to win again, he’d surely cement his position as the greatest jumps horse of his generation.

Walking On Air

5yo bay gelding Form: 2-1 Target: BallymoreHas the pedigree of a top-class jumps prospect, being out of the brilliant mare Refinement, and made a striking impression when making a winning hurdles debut at Newbury last month, quickening clear without ever having to leave his comfort zone. Missed his intended prep at Ascot and is clearly lacking in experience for a Festival Grade 1, but his claims already look solid after a sole hurdle start.

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