We go through some of the main Nicky Henderson hopes for the Cheltenham Festival and nominate a best bet and dark horse to add to your antepost portfolio.
Altior - Supreme Novices Hurdle 9/2 with Paddy Power or 4/1 NRNB with SkyBet and Bet365 Second favourite for the Supreme after four hurdle victories this term, including the Supreme Trial at Cheltenham in November. A good gallop will suit this strong-going type and he looks the chief rival to favourite Min.
Buveur d’Air - Supreme Novices Hurdle 7/1 NRNB with SkyBet Sits third in the betting behind his stablemate, Altior, largely due to the horse having less experience. An easy winner at Newbury and Huntingdon this season but yet to sample the undulations of Prestbury Park.
Vaniteux - Arkle Trophy Chase 6/1 with Paddy Power or 5/1 NRNB with SkyBet Got to within a neck of Ar Mad at Kempton before winning a Grade 2 Novices Chase at Doncaster. Improving but will need to come on a tonne to beat the imperious Douvan.
L’Ami Serge - Arkle Trophy Chase 14/1 generally or 11/1 NRNB with Bet365 Fourth in last year’s Supreme and began chasing career impressively with wins at Plumpton and Wetherby. Will need to bounce back to form after flopping badly in the Kingmaker at Warwick.
My Tent Or Yours - Champion Hurdle 8/1 NRNB with Paddy Power/Coral It would perhaps be Henderson’s finest training performance if he could bring this horse back from a two year layoff to land the Champion Hurdle. A neck runner-up to Jezki in the 2014 renewal, he would be sure to go close this time if retaining all of his old ability.
Top Notch - Champion Hurdle 16/1 NRNB generally Easily landed the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso in heavy ground and softer conditions at Prestbury Park would be in his favour. Has place claims in a wide open renewal.
Hargam - Champion Hurdle 20/1 NRNB generally Third in last year’s Triumph Hurdle behind stablemates Peace And Co and Top Notch, he should join the other two in this year’s Champion. Would be a huge shock if he won but if the ground was quick, he’d have a chance of hitting the frame.
Peace and Co - Champion Hurdle 20/1 NRNB with Ladbrokes Beat stablemates Top Notch and Hargam to land last season’s Triumph but has been bitterly disappointing this campaign. Has had his problems but if those have been ironed out he’d have a chance in a weakish looking Champion.
Sign Of A Victory - Champion Hurdle 100/1 NRNB with Paddy Power Too high to run in the County Hurdle but probably short of Champion Hurdle class. Needs quick ground to be seen at his best effect.
Polly Peachum - Mares Hurdle 7/1 generally or 6/1 NRNB with Bet365/SkyBet Likeable, consistent mare who could be a rock-solid each-way bet against either Annie Power or Vroum Vroum Mag. Beaten by just a head in this race last year.
O O Seven - Neptune Novices Hurdle 25/1 generally or 20/1 NRNB with Bet365/SkyBet Stepped up in trip to win the Albert Bartlett Trial at Musselburgh last month but the trainer thinks 3 miles at Cheltenham might stretch his stamina so more likely to head to the Neptune. A chaser in the making.
Vyta Du Roc - RSA Chase or National Hunt Chase RSA Chase - 14/1 with William Hill or 12/1 NRNB with SkyBet National Hunt Chase - 20/1 with Ladbrokes or 12/1 NRNB with Bet365 The RSA looks the more likely option but could go for the 4 miler if the ground was quick. Reportedly came to life at home prior to his impressive win in the Reynoldstown where he jumped with much more proficiency than previously shown. If that holds up, he’ll be staying on better than most up the famous Cheltenham hill.
Kilcrea Vale - Coral Cup 16/1 NRNB with SkyBet Fell when favourite at Ascot in November and then finished 6th in a competitive handicap at the same track in January. Has an e/w chance in an extremely competitive race.
Clean Sheet - Coral Cup or Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle Coral Cup - 33/1 with William Hill or 25/1 NRNB with SkyBet Martin Pipe - 33/1 with William Hill or 20/1 NRNB with SkyBet Had excuses when unlucky in running at Cheltenham on Trials Day but disappointed subsequently at Kempton. Started favourite for both races so clearly held in high regard.
Sprinter Sacre - Queen Mother Champion Chase 9/2 NRNB generally The trainer reports him to be tanking at the moment and “nicely aggressive” in his attitude. If back to his best, his battle with Un De Sceaux could be one of the highlights of the Festival.
Broxbourne - Pertemps Final 20/1 NRNB with Bet365/SkyBet Formerly trained by Mark Johnston, this mare has a healthy strike rate on the flat and over hurdles. Made all to win a Pertemps Qualifier at Aintree in November but has disappointed twice since.
Cup Final - Pertemps Final 10/1 with William Hill/Betfair Sportsbook or 8/1 NRNB with Bet365/SkyBet Returned from a year off to win a Qualifier at Musselburgh in February, landing a monster gamble in the process. Will be expected to go close if coming on for the run.
Josses Hill - Ryanair Chase 14/1 with William Hill or 12/1 NRNB with Bet365 Has had his jumping problems but put in an impressive round at Kempton last time out, beating God’s Own by 8 lengths (in receipt of 7lb). Would surely go close in a wide-open Ryanair if in the same mood.
Ma Filleule - Ryanair Chase or Brown Advisory Plate Ryanair Chase - 33/1 with William Hill or 16/1 NRNB with Bet365/SkyBet Brown Advisory Plate - 25/1 with William Hill or 20/1 NRNB with Bet365 If the handicapper drops her she could line up in the Brown Advisory Plate or else she’ll run in the Ryanair in which she was second last year. Form seems to have tailed off since then though and this could be her last run before heading to stud.
Different Gravey - World Hurdle or Coral Cup World Hurdle - 12/1 NRNB with Bet365/SkyBet Coral Cup - 12/1 NRNB with Bet365/SkyBet Entered in the Coral Cup but would need to be supplemented for the World Hurdle. Pulverised the field in a strong Ascot Handicap in February but could skip the Festival and go to Aintree. An interesting prospect.
Whisper - World Hurdle 16/1 NRNB generally Has had his problems but the trainer thinks he’s got the horse in a great condition. Fifth in the World Hurdle last year but then turned the tables with Cole Harden in the Stayers Hurdle at Aintree. Henderson has stated that he is keen on his chance.
Bobs Worth - World Hurdle 40/1 NRNB with Bet365/Betfair Sportsbook The 2013 Gold Cup winner looked revitalised by a switch to hurdles when out-battling stablemate Simonsig at Aintree in November. Disappointed in the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham but will appreciate stepping back up to 3 miles.
Bloody Mary - Mares Novices Hurdle 12/1 with William Hill or 10/1 NRNB with SkyBet Bought by JP McManus after winning 6 of her 7 races in France, she began her British career with a pleasing victory at Taunton. Would prefer some cut in the ground.
Chocca Wocca - Mares Novices Hurdle 14/1 NRNB with SkyBet Likely to head for this race as she’s owned by the sponsors. A bumper winner at Ludlow last season, she began her hurdling career with a neck success at Market Rasen in February. Needs to learn to settle to have a decent chance.
Robin’s Reef - Mares Novices Hurdle 25/1 with Paddy Power/Ladbrokes or 20/1 NRNB with SkyBet Beat Pink Play (has won twice since) at Ludlow in November but turned over at odds-on at Doncaster a fortnight later. Not seen since but a favourite of the trainer.
Fixe Le Kap - Triumph Hurdle 12/1 NRNB with SkyBet Turned over at 1/4f in a messy, slow-run race at Haydock last month after which the trainer urged punters to draw a line through it. Should be much better suited by the strong gallop he’ll get in the Triumph.
Protek Des Flos - Triumph Hurdle 20/1 generally or 16/1 NRNB with Bet365/SkyBet Won the Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham at 25/1 and didn’t fluff his lines when sent off at 2/7 for a Sandown Novices Hurdle last month. Still immature but going the right way.
Khezerabad - Triumph Hurdle 25/1 generally or 20/1 NRNB with SkyBet Made his British debut in the Adonis Hurdle following his switch from the Alain Royer De Dupre yard in France. Finished a creditable third but will need to come on for the run to feature in the Triumph. Wants good ground.
Consul De Thaix - Triumph Hurdle 33/1 NRNB with Bet365 Went to post as the more fancied of the Henderson runners in the Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham but finished a close third to stablemate Protek Des Flos. Sure to have learnt plenty for the experience.
Omessa Has - Triumph Hurdle or Fred Winter Triumph Hurdle - 50/1 NRNB with Bet365/SkyBet Fred Winter - 20/1 with William Hill or 16/1 NRNB with Bet365/SkyBet French bred filly who could head to the Triumph or the Fred Winter. Yet to race in Britain but a winner of a Juvenile Hurdle at Auteuil.
Lough Kent - Grand Annual 20/1 NRNB with Bet365/SkyBet Finished mid-division in a Handicap Chase at Cheltenham during the Paddy Power meeting and then pulled up at Newbury two weeks later. Is the sole Henderson horse entered so expected to take his chance.
Best Bet Vyta Du Roc - RSA Chase 12/1 each-way NRNB with SkyBet Was mighty impressive in what looked a red-hot Reynoldstown and if he jumps with the same accuracy and efficiency at Cheltenham it will be hard to see him not making the frame. Take the slightly shorter price along with the Non Runner No Bet concession just in case he’s switched to the National Hunt Chase.
Dark Horse Whisper - World Hurdle 16/1 each-way NRNB with Paddy Power Has finished last and pulled up on his only two appearances this season but if the trainer is correct and he’s back to his best, he’d be right up there amongst the pick of the staying hurdlers. Worth chancing at the current odds.
Nicky Henderson is 16/1 with SkyBet to be the Top Festival Trainer and 7/4 with the same firm in the ‘betting without Willie Mullins’ market.