NEWS: Horse-by-horse guide to Nicky Henderson's other runners at The Festival™ supporting WellChild

Published 2021/02/25

Shishkin (Sporting Life Arkle Trophy) “It’s amazing how this race has gone from about three or four weeks ago, when Shishkin was odds on and everyone saying it was going to be boring.

All of a sudden Willie (Mullins) has come along with Energumene and that’s arrived on the scene and I think Allmankind was impressive again at Warwick.

It was only three weeks ago it was boring, and now there’s a real fight on and people are seeing it as one of the big headline clashes of the week.

“I think Shishkin’s performance in the Supreme last year was pretty good because he did get literally taken into the car park at the second last, so to get back in and win was a solid performance. He probably hasn’t had a lot of opposition over fences, but he’s been very clinical and accurate and he’s done it well every time. He comes in having got ten ticks on all three occasions, even if he didn’t have to beat anything very sensational, and he’s had a good run in.

“He’s got a couple of bits of work I’d like to do with him beforehand this weekend and next, and I’d put him on a shortlist to go to Kempton (for a racecourse gallop) if we do that. He’ll have another school, but everything’s fairly on course at the moment.”

Ok Corral and Pym (Ultima Handicap Chase)

“The latest is that they are both Grand National bound, all going well. I need to get a run into Ok Corral very shortly. We’re going well now, he’s never been the easiest horse to train, and I’d prefer to have it before Cheltenham – so in both cases this is a back-up in case we haven’t had a run before that and this would be a last opportunity to run before the National. Pym is rated quite a lot lower over hurdles, so I’m quite tempted to come into the National on the back of a hurdle run.”

Dame De Compagnie, Floressa and Verdana Blue (Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle)

“We were a bit short of opportunities with Dame De Compagnie so we had to throw her into a Grade One (over fences), which was a bit of a baptism really. I think she’s very likely to come back for this, and she’s in very good form. The fall did her no harm, and I don’t see why she shouldn’t come back over hurdles. She showed in the Coral Cup that two and a half miles is her trip and I think it’s a good call. We can always go back over fences, and she’s not ready for the Mares’ Chase as yet. JP has the favourite for that (Elimay), so we’re just trying to split the troops.

“Floressa will also go for this. I’m pretty keen to run her and she’s always struck me as if an extra half a mile would help her. She’s been running very well in graded races at two miles, but we’ve always felt that two and a half would suit her.

“I think Verdana Blue has become more versatile than she used to be. She was very speedy and wanted fast ground, but I think funnily enough her Flat season last year told us that she’s staying better and coping with softer ground better – as she was a very close third in the Ebor on soft ground. So she might well be better going up to two and a half.” Paros (Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle)

“He was very disappointing at Doncaster. That was left-handed, and he visited every pub, hotel and car park in Doncaster on his way round the other day and had no steering whatsoever, so I can’t see Cheltenham being the right place for him at the moment.”

Dickie Diver (National Hunt Chase, also in Brown Advistory Novices’ Chase)

“He’s never been an easy person, but he had one run over fences at Newbury and ran very well and jumped well. He really needs to back it up again and is in a few, but he might well get a run again before the Festival – and will probably need to.”

Day Two – Wednesday 17th March Gallyhill (Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle)

“I think he’s lovely, and he ran a very good race although he got defeated the other day. I’ve spoken to Mike Grech (owner) and we’ve discussed it, and I think Cheltenham is for another year for him. He belongs there and I hope his career will be around Cheltenham Festivals, but another year.”

Allart, Buzz, Craigneiche, Monte Cristo (Coral Cup)

“Allart had a fall at Haydock, which was very frustrating. He didn’t do a lot wrong, but on that very deep ground he overpitched. He would be interesting if he came in here, but we’re not having the cleanest time with him at the moment – so I’ll have to sit on the fence as far as his participation would be concerned.

“I would think there would be a definite possibility that Buzz could come into this. There was no doubt in the Betfair Hurdle that both of our horses – Buzz and Mr Coffey – found it too quick. I’ve always felt that Buzz races as if another half a mile would help him and I would think there’s every possibility he would come into this. If I run all 14 in here it would only leave room for another 10 to run! The ones I think are more likely to run here are Buzz, Craigneiche, and Monte Cristo.”

Theinval, Whatswrongwithyou and Mengli Khan (Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase)

“We’ve won it a couple of times and it’s obviously very special to me, but you can’t just pluck two-mile handicap chasers out – if you haven’t got one, you haven’t got one!

“Theinval has been third, fourth and fifth before and he’ll be in there again and is in good form. Whatswrongwithyou comes into this and has been knocking on the door in these competitive handicaps and he could run too. Mengli Khan is an entertaining character. I think there’s every chance he would run and he’s a two-miler. He likes to bowl along, but this would be fast and furious.”

Day Three - Thursday March 18th Chantry House and Fusil Raffles (Marsh Novices’ Chase)

“I was very pleased with Chantry House at Wetherby the other day. He was very impressive first time out at Ascot, and if you go back last year he was a very good third in the Supreme, and we always felt he needed further. Ascot isn’t a place I would often choose for first time out novice chasers, but he was very good and won well.

“We then went to Cheltenham, and he was very disappointing and completely forgot his jumping. He had a bit of surgery on his back and he did really well because Wetherby was only eight weeks after we’d corrected his back, so that was a pretty quick turnaround. I thought he jumped beautifully and travelled very well on horrible ground. He stays, touch wood he jumps, and the only problem is Envoi Allen!

“I spoke to Anthony Bromley who manages Simon Munir and Isaac Souede’s horses, and he will go for the Marsh (with Fusil Raffles). I’ve always felt that two and a half was what he wanted, but he’s actually finished at two miles all the time and he has been a star this season, I must admit.

“It was only one start in very heavy ground at Cheltenham (that caught him out) and I’m absolutely certain he wants two and a half. You do have problems in doing that, as you bump into one of the Irish bankers of the week in Envoi Allen. He’s got to be taken on and I think with Chantry House and Fusil we’ve got two shots at him.”

Champagne Platinum (Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle)

“He found jumping fences quite hard last year, and we had to school, school and school. It was difficult, we just brought him back over hurdles for a couple of runs and he went to Haydock the other day for the last Pertemps qualifier. It was the last throw of the dice and he ran a very good race to finish second on very soft ground.

“He does go through flat spots, and I suspect cheekpieces might come back on for this. He did ok and finished well, so we’re thinking and hoping that Cheltenham will be a better track for him.” Carribean Boy (Paddy Power Plate)

“This is definitely the objective for Carribean Boy. When he’s good, he’s very good, like he was first time out at Newbury. I think I made a couple of mistakes with him since. We ran him back too quickly after the Newbury race, where he was very impressive. If we can get back to the right trip on the right ground, and we see the horse from Newbury, we’re in with a good shout.”

Day Four – Friday 19th March Heross Du Seuil (JCB Triumph Hurdle)

“He runs at Warwick tomorrow (Friday 26th February) and let’s see how things go. I love the horse and I thought he did well to win at Kempton first time out. He’s got to get more experience and he’s got to be impressive tomorrow, but you’ll never know. I’ve opted for the easier option at Warwick over the Adonis, so let’s wait and see.” Bothwell Bridge (Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle)

“He could well run at Hereford on Sunday over three miles. We think that’s what he wants and he’d have to do something spectacular there but he’s very capable of it. I was very impressed with him the first time he ran, so he’ll be at Cheltenham one day for sure.”

Leading Trainers of all time at The Festival™ supporting WellChild

72 wins - Willie Mullins IRE (1995-present)


46 - Paul Nicholls (1999-present)

40 - Fulke Walwyn (1946-86)

34 - Martin Pipe (1981-2006)

Nicky Henderson’s 68 winners at The Festival™ supporting WellChild

1985 (3) See You Then- Unibet Champion Hurdle The Tsarevich - Paddy Power Plate First Bout - JCB Triumph Hurdle

1986 (3) River Ceiriog - Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle See You Then - Unibet Champion Hurdle The Tsarevich – Paddy Power Plate

1987 (2) See You Then - Unibet Champion Hurdle Alone Success - JCB Triumph Hurdle

1989 (1) Rustle - Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle

1990 (2) Brown Windsor - Cathcart Chase Master Bob - Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase (Sponsored by the JRL Group)

1991 (1) Remittance Man – Sporting Life Arkle

1992 (2) Flown - Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Remittance Man - Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase

1993 (2) Travado - Sporting Life Arkle Thumbs Up – McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle

1994 (1) Raymylette - Cathcart Chase

1997 (1) Barna Boy - McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle

1999 (2) Stormyfairweather - Cathcart Chase Katarino - JCB Triumph Hurdle

2000 (4) Tiutchev - Sporting Life Arkle Marlborough - Ultima Handicap Chase Stormyfairweather - Cathcart Chase Bacchanal - Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle

2002 (1) The Bushkeeper - Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase (Sponsored by the JRL Group)

2005 (3) Trabolgan – Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase Liberthine – Paddy Power Plate Juveigneur - Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase (Sponsored by the JRL Group)

2006 (3) Fondmort - Ryanair Chase Non So – Paddy Power Plate Greenhope - Johnny Henderson Grand Annual

2009 (3) Punjabi - Unibet Champion Hurdle Zaynar - JCB Triumph Hurdle Andytown - Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle

2010 (3) Binocular - Unibet Champion Hurdle Spirit River - Coral Cup Soldatino - JCB Triumph Hurdle

2011 (2) Bobs Worth - Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Long Run – Well Child Cheltenham Gold Cup

2012 (7) Sprinter Sacre - Sporting Life Arkle Simonsig - Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Bobs Worth – Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase Finian’s Rainbow - Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase Une Artiste - Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Riverside Theatre - Ryanair Chase Bellvano - Johnny Henderson Grand Annual

2013 (4) Simonsig - Sporting Life Arkle Rajdhani Express - Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase Sprinter Sacre - Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase Bobs Worth - WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup

2014 (1) Whisper - Coral Cup

2015 (2) Call The Cops- Pertemps Network Final Peace And Co - JCB Triumph Hurdle

2016 (2) Altior - Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Sprinter Sacre - Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase

2017 (3) Altior - Sporting Life Arkle Buveur D’Air - Unibet Champion Hurdle Might Bite – Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase

2018 (2) Buveur D’Air - Unibet Champion Hurdle Altior - Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase

2019 (4) Beware The Bear - Ultima Handicap Chase William Henry - Coral Cup Altior - Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase Pentland Hills - JCB Triumph Hurdle

2020 (4) Shishkin - Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Epatante - Unibet Champion Hurdle Champ – Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase Dame de Compagnie - Coral Cup