- Nicky Henderson who has trained 68 Cheltenham Festival winners talked about his prospects for the 2021 meeting via Zoom, hosted by The Jockey Club.
ALTIOR: Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase. Altior could not be better and I’m very, very happy. His whole demeanour is in a better place than he has been this year. He will have one more bit of work and will be sharper this time.
There will be a battle and I am looking forward to it. Remember he is 11 now and is on 11-year-old legs. He has done very little wrong.
BUVEUR D’AIR: Unibet Champion Hurdle. I think Buveur D’Air has been forgotten. He’s out with the washing at the moment, whereas Epatante is sharing the favourite line with Honeysuckle and Goshen. It’s going to be very competitive.
BUZZ: Coral Cup. There was no doubt in the Betfair Hurdle that both Buzz and Mister Coffey found it too quick. I’ve always felt that Buzz races as if another half a mile would help him.
CARRIBEAN BOY: Paddy Power Plate. When he’s good, he’s very good. If we can get back to the right trip on the right ground, and we see the horse from Newbury, we’re in with a good shout.
CHAMP: WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup. It was an extraordinary performance in the RSA last year. That proved one thing in his stamina. He’s an extraordinary horse.
￼CHAMPAGNE PLATINUM: Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle. He found jumping fences quite hard last year. It was difficult, we brought him back over hurdles and he went to Haydock for the last Pertemps qualifier. It was the last throw of the dice and he ran a very good race to finish second on very soft ground. We’re hoping Cheltenham will be a better track for him.
CHANTRY HOUSE: Marsh Novices’ Chase. I was very pleased with Chantry House at Wetherby. He was very impressive first time out at Ascot, and last year he was a very good third in the Supreme, and we always felt he needed further. He had a bit of surgery on his back and he did really well. I thought he jumped beautifully and travelled very well. He stays, touch wood he jumps. The only problem is Envoi Allen!
DAME DE COMPAGNIE: Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle. With Dame De Compagnie we had to throw her into a Grade One, which was a baptism. I think she’s very likely to come back over hurdles for this, and she’s in very good form.
DICKIE DIVER: National Hunt Chase/Brown Advistory Novices’ Chase. At Newbury he ran very well and jumped well. He really needs to back it up again.
EPATANTE: Unibet Champion Hurdle. Kempton was disappointing because she was very, very good in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle. Christmas just didn’t go her way. We have a few things ironed out. If we’ve got her back, she’s got as good a chance as any.
FLORESSA: Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle. I’m pretty keen to run her. She’s been running very well in graded races at two miles, but we’ve always felt that two and a half would suit her.
FUSIL RAFFLES: Marsh Novices’ Chase. I’ve always felt that two and a half was what he wanted, but he’s actually finished at two miles all the time and he has been a star this season.
HEROSS DU SEUIL: JCB Triumph Hurdle. I love the horse and I thought he did well to win at Kempton first time out.
MENGLI KHAN: Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase. Mengli Khan is an entertaining character. I think there’s every chance he would run and he’s a two-miler. He likes to bowl along, but this would be fast and furious.
MISTER FISHER: Ryanair Chase. I’d like to think he’s got a very good shout. He went away with Altior earlier this month and his jumping has been very good. He would very much like good ground. If he gets some decent ground, I think he’ll be very competitive.
OK CORRAL: Ultima Handicap Chase. Ok Corral is Grand National bound, all going well. I need to get a run into Ok Corral, this is a back-up in case we haven’t had a run before that and this would be a last opportunity to run before the National.
SANTINI: WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup. Santini has had a difficult season. He’s a huge horse and not a horse that sits still, he loves racing. I’m very happy with Santini as it’s been a difficult winter with him. Aidan Coleman will ride Santini in the Gold Cup, with Nico de Boinville on Champ.
SHISHKIN: Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase. Shishkin was odds-on and Willie Mullins two-mile novice entry Energumene sees a real fight, people are seeing it as one of the big headline clashes. He’s got a couple of bits of work to do and will have another school. Everything is fairly well on course.
THEINVAL: Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase.
Theinval has been third, fourth and fifth before and he’ll be in there again and is in good form.
VERDANA BLUE: Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle. Verdana Blue has become more versatile. She was very speedy and wanted fast ground and she’s staying better and coping with softer ground better; a very close third in the Ebor on soft ground.
WHATSWRONGWITHYOU: Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase.
He comes into this and has been knocking on the door in these competitive handicaps and he could run.