Nicky Henderson: Career profile

Nicky Henderson has 53 Cheltenham Festival wins under his belt
Nicky Henderson has 53 Cheltenham Festival wins under his belt
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Continuing his series of profiles of the leading trainers in the UK and Ireland, Russell Smith takes a look at the career of Cheltenham Festival king Nicky Henderson...

"Heading his squad this time is a rejuvenated Sprinter Sacre in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Peace And Co, who gave Henderson his sixth Triumph Hurdle success when leading home Top Notch and Hargam in a stable one-two-three last March, remains in the frame for the Champion Hurdle."

When it comes to training winners at the Cheltenham Festival no-one can surpass Nicky Henderson.

The Lambourn handler has notched a record 53 successes at National Hunt racing's showpiece fixture.

See You Then provided his first Festival winner in the 1985 Champion Hurdle, before going on to complete a memorable hat-trick in the race in the following two years.

With Punjabi (2009) and Binocular (2010) etching their names on the list of Champion Hurdle heroes, the 65-year-old master of Seven Barrows has now won this prestigious prize five times.

The Gold Cup proved more elusive, and the three-time champion trainer had to wait until 2011 before capturing chasing's blue riband with Long Run, ridden by amateur Sam Waley-Cohen.

Two years later, he repeated the feat when Bobs Worth powered home under Barry Geraghty.

Henderson has also landed the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Remittance Man (1992), Finian's Rainbow (2012) and Sprinter Sacre (2013), while he won the Stayers' Hurdle with Rustle (1989) and Bacchanal (2000).

Those kind of triumphs have helped him be leading trainer at the meeting on no fewer than nine occasions.

Heading his squad this time is a rejuvenated Sprinter Sacre in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Peace And Co, who gave Henderson his sixth Triumph Hurdle success when leading home Top Notch and Hargam in a stable one-two-three last March, remains in the frame for the Champion Hurdle.

His other main hopes include Altior and Buveur D'Air (Supreme Novices' Hurdle), Vaniteux (Arkle Trophy), L'Ami Serge (Arkle Trophy or JLT Novices' Chase) and Fixe Le Kap (Triumph Hurdle).

Born in Lambeth, south London, he is the son of the late financier Johnny Henderson MBE, who founded Racecourse Holdings Trust, the forerunner of Jockey Club Racecourses.

Educated at Eton and the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, Henderson worked for stockbrokers Cazenove in London and Australia where he gained experience riding work at Randwick. And it was his passion for horse racing which saw him forego a career in the City.

Becoming assistant trainer to Fred Winter in 1974, he continued to ride as an amateur, triumphing on Happy Warrior in the Fox Hunters Chase at Aintree and aboard Acquaint in the Imperial Cup at Sandown, both in 1977.

His 78th and last victory came on Rolls Rambler in the Horse & Hound Cup at Stratford in June, 1978. Taking out a training licence a month later, he succeeded Roger Charlton at Windsor House Stables in Lambourn, before a swap with Peter Walwyn saw him move to Seven Barrows in 1992.

Dukery was his first winner as a trainer at Uttoxeter in October 1978, and the following year he saddled Zongalero to finish second to Rubstic in the Grand National - a result which remains his best in the Aintree spectacular.

Away from Cheltenham, Henderson has captured a host of big races including the King George VI Chase at Kempton with dual winner Long Run, and the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury courtesy of Trabolgan (2005), Bobs Worth (2012) and Triolo D'Alene (2013).

He has also enjoyed success on the Flat with Caracciola landing the Cesarewitch at Newmarket in 2008 and the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot a year later.

Veiled gave him another winner at the Royal meeting when taking the Ascot Stakes in 2011.

It hasn't all been plain sailing, though, as in July 2009 he was fined £40,000 and banned from running horses for three months after Moonlit Path, a mare he trained for the Queen, failed a drugs test.

Happily, that saga is now well behind him and Henderson's sights will be fully focused on adding to his Cheltenham Festival tally in 2016.

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Check out Russell's profile of Willie Mullins

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