The Big Question: Can Henderson be top trainer at Cheltenham?
Nicky Henderson is Cheltenham’s leading trainer of all-time with 50 winners but is priced at 4-1 to top the list this year. The main reason is the incredible strength of the team being sent over by Irish trainer Willie Mullins but the absence of Sprinter Sacre and Simonsig is definitely a blow to the Lambourn trainer.
Henderson could still have up to 35 runners over the four-day meeting including the Gold Cup favourite Bobs Worth and leading Champion Hurdle hope My Tent Or Yours. The latter is back on course for the festival after suffering a minor setback last week and looks to be Henderson’s best chance on the opening day.
My Tent Or Yours has remained unbeaten since finishing second in the Supreme 12 months ago. He also saddles both Vaniteux and Josses Hill in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle while he also has chances with Grandouet (Arkle), Hadrian’s Approach (Festival Chase) and Ericht (Rewards4Racing Chase).
Captain Conan is the stable’s big hope on Day 2 in the Champion Chase. He is joined by Kid Cassidy in the absence of Sprinter Sacre but recent vibes certainly suggest that Captain Conan is the number one.
Royal Boy has been well supported in recent days for the Neptune while Dawalan is the ante-post favourite for the Fred Winter. Whisper also has a chance in the Coral Cup despite his big weight after being narrowly beaten by Saphir Du Rheu in the Welsh Champion Hurdle.
Oscar Whisky kicks off Day 3 in the JLT Novices’ Chase but it hard to see any obvious chances in his other runners on Thursday. The closing day sees Bobs Worth defending his Gold Cup crown and he is Henderson’s shortest price runner of the meeting.
He is joined in the field by Triolo D’Alene who has come in for significant each-way support with the drying ground in his favour. Captain Cutter (Albert Bartlett) and Full Shift (Martin Pipe) are others with chances.
Mullins has eight possible favourites and it is hard to argue with the bookmaker’s making him odds-on. If Henderson comes away with a Gold Cup or a Champion Hurdle, or possibly both, he won’t be concerned with counting the numbers.