If you follow UK horse racing, Nicky Henderson is practically a household name, and if you’re new to the sport, you should get to know more about him. Here’s a look at one of the nation’s top trainers and why you should give his horses your attention when you’re betting to improve your profitability from your horse racing results. Born in 1950, Nicky Henderson is the son of well known racecourse owner Johnny Henderson, the founder of the Racecourse Holdings Trust, now called the Jockey Club Racecourses. This organisation owns many of the UK’s most notable racecourses, including Aintree, Cheltenham, Epsom and the July Course and Rowley Mile at Newmarket. After attending Eton College, Nicky Henderson rode as an amateur jockey and then worked as an assistant to famous trainer Fred Winter. Henderson started his own training yard in 1978 and over the years has won many of the top jump races as well as a few notable Flat races. A member of the Lambourn Trainers Association, Nicky Henderson is based at Seven Barrows near Lambourne in Berkshire. He has an impressive 175 horses under his care and has been the British Jump Racing Champion Trainer three times. Over his career, Henderson has had more than 2,000 winners, including more than 50 at the Cheltenham Festival. He is known for producing spectacular jumping competitors year after year. Some of Nicky Henderson’s most renowned winners include the following which will bring back fond memories to many of those who followed them: ● See You Then ● Punjabi ● Binocular ● Remittance Man ● Caracciola ● Bobs Worth ● Simonsig ● Long Run ● Sprinter Sacre Nicky Henderson has been training long enough to employ a number of racing strategies that have landed him in the winner’s circle quite frequently. He’s very adept at judging a horse’s best running distance and how well any horse will do on various going, or “ground,” as he refers to it. Henderson maintains a stable of several horse breeds, including both Thoroughbreds and Selle Français horses, the latter known for their superb jumping skills and natural athleticism. Nicky Henderson also knows how to play into the age cycles that periodically affect his stable. When he has older horses, he learns their every in and out, so he knows exactly how to place them in a race. He’s patient with younger horses too, which some trainers disparage due to their lack of experience. Henderson sees their raw potential. He’s a keen believer in “bumpers” as a way to introduce new horses to National Hunt races and to check out their prospective talent. “Bumpers,” in case you tend to skip over them on the race card, are officially known as National Hunt Flat Races, which sounds like a bit of an oxymoron. These are flat races for inexperienced horses that are being targeted for hurdles or steeplechases to get them used to the distances and the large fields before introducing them to jumps. National Hunt Flat Races are called “bumpers” because they used to be run by amateur jockeys, and the lack of experience all around led to a lot of bumping on the racecourse. Henderson gets terrific horse racing results by utilizing these often overlooked events, but he rarely places a horse in a field of more than 15. Racing National Hunt Flat Races and giving younger horses a chance are part of Henderson’s philosophy that “there are no bankers,” no horses that are ever guaranteed to win, no matter what conventional wisdom dictates. Nicky Henderson hasn’t been without his share of controversy. In 2009, he was fined and suspended from British racing for three months after a horse he trained for the Queen, Moonlit Path, was revealed after the race to have tested positive for tranexamic acid. This drug, which had been commonly used to prevent excess bleeding in racehorses, has been banned at UK racecourses as a performance enhancer; Henderson argued he had administered it for the horse’s benefit. The next time you watch a race and see one of Nicky Henderson’s horses on the card, you may think more about backing it. Given his breadth of experience and winning record, you could do far worse when betting a trainer. This article is courtesy of John Hawthorne. Originally from Canada John’s interest in horse racing began at an early age. After traveling abroad his interest became a passion. He now is a full time sports writer and focuses on Australian horse racing.
Only 12 months ago, champion trainer Nicky Henderson was celebrating a wonderfully successful Cheltenham Festival. Simonsig looked set to become a stable star after landing the Arkle. Bobs Worth proved himself the best staying chaser in the land when winning the Gold Cup. And the incredible Sprinter Sacre had soared to even greater heights. So as the new season arrived we all sat back in anticipation of jump racing domination, Henderson style. Yet if there’s one thing you quickly learn about this great sport, it’s just how fragile the stars of the show can be. Before the season’s action even began, Simonsig was struck down by injury. Then jump racing fans were stunned to see Henderson’s stable superstar Sprinter Sacre sidelined with a heart condition. Both are set to return next year, but such losses were certain to have a major impact on the stables fortunes. Fast forward to this year’s Cheltenham Festival, and is it such a surprise that Nicky Henderson’s team could only produce one winner? A surprise maybe that his only winner was not Festival specialist Bobs Worth. The Gold Cup favourite looked set for a repeat victory two out, but appeared to lack gears up the famous hill. Against popular opinion, it appears the quicker ground did not suit. Henderson’s only winner came in the Coral Cup, when Whisper got the better of the perpetual Festival runner-up Get Me Out Of Here. It was a terrific win for a horse rated 153 in such a competitive handicap. The horse could easily have been sent chasing this season, but the decision to embark on another hurdles campaign could prove a master-stroke. He looks to have strengthened considerably during the season and could be something special when finally sent over fences next winter, still only a six-year-old. But Whisper wasn’t the only eye-catching Henderson performer. He looks set to have several top-class novice chasers next season. Two potential stars ran oustanding races in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. The enormous Josses Hill ran a blinder to finish second behind Mullins’ Vautour. He is every inch a chaser in the making. His breeding suggests he’ll stay much further than two miles. It would be no surprise to see him back at Cheltenham Festival 2015 as a fancied runner in the RSA Chase. Vaniteux was third in the Supreme just half a length behind his stablemate. A year younger than Josses Hill, this was only his fourth career start. It was a terrific performance from such a raw inexperienced horse. Thought by his trainer to have “plenty of speed”, he has the size and scope to make into a serious Arkle contender. Sprinter Sacre himself was similarly third as a raw inexperienced five-year-old back in the Supreme of 2011. Willie Mullins may have a potential superstar in Vautour, but Nicky Henderson could have one of his own in Vaniteux. My Tent Or Yours is the undoubted flag-bearer for Nicky Henderson over hurdles, but it’s in the chasing division that Henderson could hold a plethora of firepower. This year’s Cheltenham Festival may have failed to deliver the number of victories the Lambourn trainer would have hoped for, but there was no shortage of classy performances. If Nicky Henderson can get all of his stars fit for battle, the Cheltenham Festival of 2015 has the potential of being one of his greatest.