Cheltenham - At The Races

Nicky Henderson

    The Master of Seven Barrows is the winning-most trainer at the festival and here he lifts the lid on his string that looks set to carry him to further glories, featuring Buveur D’Air, Charli Parcs and Might Bite.
  • Thursday 23 February 2017
  • Stable Tours

As usual, Nicky Henderson has that spring in his step as another Cheltenham approaches and who can blame him as he has the enviable record of having sent out 55 Festival winners to head the all-time list of winning trainers.

Last year the tears of joy flowed freely as Sprinter Sacre produced an unforgettable performance to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase and Altior took his first major step to stardom when landing the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Regrettably there is no Sprinter this year as he spend his days in retirement at Seven Barrows but Altior has emerged as one of, if not, the most exciting novice chasers seen for sometime and he appears to have the Arkle Challenge Trophy at his mercy.

The open-looking Champion Hurdle picture has tempted Henderson to run the trio of Brain Power, Buveur D’Air and My Tent Or Yours and there are several exciting prospect in the novices’ hurdles and novices’ chases to suggest his total of winners at the big meeting could even swell to 60 this year.

The master of Seven Barrows kindly guided Tony Elves of attheraces.com the mainstays of the Cheltenham team who he hopes will carry him to further glories at the festival in 2017.

All Horses

Altior (IRE)

  • 7-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: High Chaparral - Monte Solaro (Key Of Luck)
  • Trained by: N J Henderson
  • Last Race: Sandown, 29 Apr 2017 15:00
  • Result: Won/4, tracked leader, switched left after 3 out, soon challenged, led after next, 2 lengths clear when not fluent last, ridden clear flat, comfortably
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

Last year going into the Supreme I was confident as I could be and if we weren’t going to win that then we weren’t going to win anything. Altior was an absolute banker last year and he has to do it again. On the piece of paper he is but this is a novice chase around Cheltenham and he has still got go and to do it. He has been in great form and everything is going great. We are long way from another Sprinter Sacre but we are creeping up the road and we went the Game Spirit route and now he has to go and do the same in the Arkle. If it happens and we don’t do something silly there are bound to be comparisons. You wouldn’t believe you have to put away one that was a great as that and then to replace him with another serious two-mile chaser is unbelievable. His jumping has been brilliant and this horse could jump with Douvan and so far that has been what he has been able to do.

Video Form
10 Oct 2015:
29 Apr 2015:

Beware The Bear (IRE)

  • 7-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Shantou - Native Bid (Be My Native)
  • Trained by: N J Henderson
  • Last Race: Ayr, 22 Apr 2017 13:40
  • Result: 4/12, towards rearm headway after 10th, mistake 14th, chased leaders 4 out, ridden and one pace after 2 out
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

He is a maybe for the National Hunt Chase. He won his two novice chases at Ascot and Newbury and we will consider him for that race.

Video Form
18 May 2016:
30 Oct 2015:

Beyond Conceit (IRE)

Trainer Says:

He goes in soft ground and if it came up soft then we can go two miles and if it isn’t then he can go two miles and five. I am going to sit down and have a serious look at the entries at the five-day stage. When you can pick between the two then you may as well have a look at the opposition in both. It was funny at Ascot with him as he was very strong early on and that was a surprise and yet he was a two-and-a-half-mile horse on the Flat and running in Ascot Stakes and races like that. He will be going back to that again. He is going to get up that hill really well and a really strong two miles with cut in the ground would be good for him.

Brain Power

Trainer Says:

He worked really well on Monday and goes to Kempton on Saturday or Tuesday for a gallop and he also cantered round Newbury after the Betfair Hurdle. I think he has been great and has done everything right. The one thing you could say it that Brain Power would love good ground in the Champion Hurdle and Buveur D’Air would love it soft. We have seen these hurdlers come through from handicaps and many fall flat on their face but rated 163 he has nowhere else to go. He was going to go to Sandown and take on Yanworth then he came out and we moved Buveur D’Air in and the ground was heavy so that wasn’t for Brain Power - he wouldn’t want to get stuck in that ground. He has a very high cruising speed and has always been tanking through those handicaps. Ideally, he wants a pacey race and Petit Mouchoir and The New One could make sure that happens. He is good when he is fresh and he has grown up mentally. One way and another it is a very open year and it is a good year to have three there in with a chance.

Video Form
28 Apr 2017:
26 Apr 2016:
21 Feb 2015:

Buveur D'air (FR)

  • 6-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Crillon - History (Alesso)
  • Trained by: N J Henderson
  • Last Race: Aintree, 6 Apr 2017 15:25
  • Result: Won/6, tracked leading pair, went 2nd 7th until after 4 out, 2nd again after 3 out, led before last, shaken up to draw clear flat, eased close home
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

He is perfectly happy on good to soft but if it dries out it goes against him and he would love it soft. If you take it strictly on what he did at Sandown he shouldn’t be favourite for the Champion as he beat Rayvin Black and Irving and they got beaten even further at Wincanton but we just have to do our own thing. We always though he was a Champion Hurdle horse and he has been very good over fences but before Annie Power and Faugheen was ruled out I said to Barry (Geraghty) this horse needs to go back hurdling. We just thought he had a little more to give over hurdles.

Charli Parcs (FR)

  • 4-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Anabaa Blue - Ella Parcs (Nikos)
  • Trained by: N J Henderson
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 17 Mar 2017 13:30
  • Result: 6/15, held up behind, headway towards outside before 2 out, chased leaders between last 2, ridden and effort before last, soon one pace, no extra flat
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

He goes to Kempton on Saturday as he has too and I don’t think he mind any ground. If it going to start softer and get better I would love to run him in the Triumph. He is a proper four-year-old hurdler and he jumps brilliantly. He has to go and do it on Saturday but looks the right type for the Triumph. You go into the Supreme and get the allowances but I would like to go Triumph. JP has a number of horses for a number of categories so we will have to see.

Daphne Du Clos (FR)

  • 4-y-o; bay filly
  • Breeding: Spanish Moon - Katarina Du Clos (Panoramic)
  • Trained by: N J Henderson
  • Last Race: Newbury, 11 Feb 2017 16:45
  • Result: Won/10, mid-division, tracked leaders 4f out, challenged going well over 2f out, led on bit inside final 2f, shaken up entering final furlong, ridden clear final 100 yards, kept on
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

It is not a race I am that keen on but she is so tough and forward and mature that she will go for the Festival Bumper. That race looks open this year and she looked very good the other day at Newbury. She gets all the allowances and has 10st 4lb.

Different Gravey (IRE)

Trainer Says:

He will do one of two things. He was great at Ascot the first time and horrible at Cheltenham the second time and Whisper came and won the race. I thought that all he had to do was jump round and after three fences he was in a total muddle. We came back and he wasn’t doing it at home either and we were seriously thinking of going back over hurdles and he is in fact in the National Spirit at Fontwell on Sunday with a view to going back over hurdles and going for the Aintree Hurdle and missing Cheltenham. However, in the last ten days his jumping has come back completely. I am going to talk to the owners and he will either run in the Pendil on Saturday which I hope would mean he would come back into the JLT or he will go to the National Spirit and won’t go to Cheltenham.

Video Form
15 Oct 2017:
26 Feb 2017:

Josses Hill (IRE)

  • 9-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Winged Love - Credora Storm (Glacial Storm)
  • Trained by: N J Henderson
  • Last Race: Sandown, 29 Apr 2017 14:25
  • Result: 3/6, jumped slowly 1st and 2nd, led narrowly before next, headed 15th (water), outpaced before 3 out, soon no chance with winner, lost 2nd after next, well beaten
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

He is in great form and goes for the Ryanair. Un de Sceaux is going to be a hard horse to take on but I like him and two and a half miles and good ground will be ideal. He has been excellent all the way through and maybe just not quite a Kempton but I couldn’t be happier with him.

Video Form
9 Jan 2015:

L'ami Serge (IRE)

Trainer Says:

He might go to Fontwell on Sunday then we will see. We don’t know who is taking on Douvan so he could end up in the Queen Mother. There is very good prize money for second and third and that is my thought with him a little bit. He is good going left-handed and he is good around Cheltenham. He had a bit of blood at Haydock and the time before at Cheltenham he looked like he had done everything right. He looked like a two miler and was just tanking but he’s in everything.

Video Form
26 Feb 2017:
3 Jan 2016:

Lough Derg Spirit (IRE)

  • 5-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Westerner - Sno-cat Lady (Executive Perk)
  • Trained by: N J Henderson
  • Last Race: Aintree, 8 Apr 2017 14:25
  • Result: PU/13, prominent, led 2nd, not fluent 6th, headed before 7th, lost 2nd from 3 out, 9th and weakening when mistake 2 out, pulled up before last
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

He won really well at Musselburgh and he is pretty smart. He looked good and he might be more of an Aintree horse than a Cheltenham horse but we will see and he could go to the Supreme too.

Might Bite (IRE)

Trainer Says:

He come into the RSA and it was horrible at Kempton and if it wasn’t for that you would be very confident but he went around Doncaster the other day and he’s in good form. He has been very good and someone asked the other day would he be ok on undulating tracks as he has only been on flat tracks but lot of horses have been to Cheltenham who have not been on undulating track so I can’t believe that is a worry. His jumping has been good and his jumping is deceiving. Might Bite doesn’t look as though he is going very quickly yet he was going around Kempton in a very fast time. He must have a very high cruising speed and when Daryl rode him at Doncaster I was thinking get on but you don’t realise how fast he is going and from four out he had them cooked. It was going to be a staggering performance at Kempton and we had to go and find a soft race to get his confidence up and we did that at Doncaster.

Video Form
9 Feb 2017:
9 Dec 2016:
6 Nov 2016:

My Tent Or Yours

  • 10-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Desert Prince - Spartan Girl (Ela-Mana-Mou)
  • Trained by: N J Henderson
  • Last Race: Punchestown, 28 Apr 2017 17:30
  • Result: 2/10, tracked leaders, moderate 4th 3 out, went moderate 2nd travelling well after 2 out, ridden approaching last, kept on well run-in, not reach winner
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

He is in really good shape and when he finished second in it last year we said he would win it this year. He has been the forgotten horse in the race and he wasn’t sparkling in those Christmas Hurdles and things but he did a bit of work recently and is really in good form. He wants a really fast gallop and he will love the race. A couple of times this year we have nearly made the running with him and we really should have done in the race at Haydock as it was a bit messy. I think it’s between Buveur D’Air and Yanworth for Barry but he might surprise you and get on Tent and David Mullins is likely to be on Brain Power. Of course there is a possibility that Noel Fehily will ride Buveur D’Air as he rode him all last year and always said he would win the Champion Hurdle.

Video Form
28 Apr 2017:
29 Apr 2016:

O O Seven (IRE)

  • 7-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Flemensfirth - Kestral Heights (Eagle Eyed)
  • Trained by: N J Henderson
  • Last Race: Aintree, 7 Apr 2017 16:05
  • Result: 4/29, tracked leaders, left disputing 2nd 12th (canal turn), left in lead 14th, driven and headed before last, ridden and kept on under pressure flat
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

He was back to winning form at Huntingdon last time and he is in the RSA Chase.

Video Form
10 Dec 2016:
29 Apr 2016:

Peace And Co (FR)

Trainer Says:

He could be the forgotten horse and I may take him to Kempton this weekend. He is working extremely well and you could ride him in a head collar these days. All that lunacy has gone and I am not going to say you will see another Lazarus but you might do. He has been working well and he could go Imperial Cup and then the County Hurdle. He has had a wind operation and then pneumonia and he has just come back a completely different person. You can’t say it will work but you can ride in front, ride him from the back or anywhere whereas he was previously going 100mph on the racecourse.

Video Form
16 Jul 2017:
25 Jun 2017:
13 Dec 2014:

Premier Bond

  • 7-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Kayf Tara - Celtic Native (Be My Native)
  • Trained by: N J Henderson
  • Last Race: Ayr, 22 Apr 2017 15:55
  • Result: PU/30, never better than mid-division, behind and reminders after 10th, tailed off 15th, soon pulled up
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

He is in the four-miler and he would run there. He is progressing nicely and was beaten by Might Bite and then won his next two at Catterick and Doncaster.

Video Form
27 Jan 2017:
9 Dec 2016:
12 Apr 2015:
29 Jan 2015:

River Wylde (IRE)

  • 6-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Oscar - Clarin River (Mandalus)
  • Trained by: N J Henderson
  • Last Race: Aintree, 7 Apr 2017 14:20
  • Result: 5/9, mid-division, headway after 4 out, 2nd 2 out, soon hung left, slightly bumped rival last, lost 2nd flat, no extra
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

He runs in the Dovecote and he has clearly taken well to hurdling. We will see how he gets on but he is in the Supreme.

Top Notch (FR)

Trainer Says:

When we started at the beginning of the season the idea was just to give him a bit of confidence at the smaller tracks as he wouldn’t have the scope for chasing and then bring him back over hurdles and maybe try him over three and maybe make a stayers’ hurdler but there was nowhere to go really. He won the Morebattle Hurdle last year and was fifth in the Champion Hurdle and beaten a head in the Fighting Fifth and it was a very lucrative year. All I was trying to do was trying to find something to keep him interested and he is such a trier and in these small runner novice chase he was getting the confidence and he grew and grew. Suddenly we were going around Sandown and he is the best jumper there is in the Scilly Isles. He loves soft ground and two and a half and it was the first time he was racing that far and that is helping him too. He has just grown all the way. He has a tough task with Yorkhill there is no doubting that and I think Whisper will coming into the equation too.

Video Form
28 Nov 2016:
28 Oct 2016:
28 Nov 2015:

Vaniteux (FR)

  • 8-y-o; brown gelding
  • Breeding: Voix Du Nord - Expoville (Video Rock)
  • Trained by: N J Henderson
  • Last Race: Sandown, 29 Apr 2017 15:00
  • Result: 4/4, held up in rear, close up on outside 3 out, soon chased front pair, outpaced next, ridden between last 2, no impression after, lost 3rd after last
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

Like Josses Hill I am very pleased with him and he is in great form he goes to the Ryanair. Vaniteux was very good at Kempton and deserves to take his chance.

Video Form
30 Jan 2016:

Verdana Blue (IRE)

  • 5-y-o; bay mare
  • Breeding: Getaway - Blue Gallery (Bluebird)
  • Trained by: N J Henderson
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 20 Apr 2017 14:05
  • Result: 3/7, held up in rear, closed before 3 out, tracking leaders going well from after 2 out until switched left before last, ridden and not quicken flat, no impression inside final 100 yards
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

She won really well the other day at Taunton and she will go for the Trull House Stud Mares Novices’ Hurdle.

Video Form
4 Jan 2017:
30 Sep 2016:
11 Jul 2016:
4 Jun 2016:
26 May 2016:

Whisper (FR)

  • 9-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Astarabad - Belle Yepa (Mansonnien)
  • Trained by: N J Henderson
  • Last Race: Aintree, 7 Apr 2017 14:50
  • Result: 2/5, not fluent 1st, in touch, tracked winner after 3rd, driven 2 out, ridden and stayed on to challenge before last, one pace and held flat
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

I am pretty sure he will go JLT but the RSA just make you look. He has been great but I want to speak to Davy Russell and Dai and he is the one who has had me thinking a little bit. He stays three and he has done at Aintree all those years so it is possible. He was beaten down at Exeter last year when he should have just gone out and won and then won at Aintree over hurdles but this year he has just come alive over fences and Davey Russell really gets on well with him. He has got a great style of riding and makes him get on with it and it suits the horse down to the ground.

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