Henderson eyes Cheltenham Festival record


Tagged under: Day 1 Tuesday 12th March

Nicky Henderson may have assembled his strongest ever team as he bids to pass the all-time Cheltenham Festival winners mark set by the great Fulke Walwyn.

The Seven Barrows handler stands head and shoulders above his contemporaries having saddled 39 winners and just one less than Walwyn’s record of 40 winners at the Cheltenham Festival.

The opening day of Cheltenham could prove to be telling as Henderson’s team begins its onslaught from the very first race of the Festival meeting. If the bookies have it right, Henderson could well set a new winners mark by the end of the second race as he will saddle the likely favourites in the first two races.

In the curtain raiser, JP McManus-owned Darlan is 11/2 favourite with Coral to win the Supreme Novices Hurdle and about half-an-hour later Sprinter Sacre will line up as hot favourite to win the Arkle, evens at sportingbet. Henderson has five of his string entered in the Festival Handicap Chase, including ante post second favourite Quantativeeasing, 7/1 with William Hill and former Champion Hurdler Binocular will make another bid for the two-mile crown when taking on Hurricane Fly in the feature race of day one.

"The first three races are going to tell us an awful lot. I'm either going to be a happy Henderson, or a wounded one," he said.

"I think we've got good strength in depth everywhere and lots of chances, but there are lots of good horses to beat,” added Henderson. "With Sprinter Sacre, we are the one everyone is going to be frightened of, and I'm going to be terrified watching him too. But in the other races, I'm frightened of something else."

Henderson holds a strong hand for later in the meeting with defending Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup champion Long Run, Riverside Theatre who heads the Ryanair Chase betting, Bobs Worth in the RSA Chase and Oscar Whisky taking on Big Buck's in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

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