Odds-on Henderson difficult to oppose in quest for National Hunt title
Nicky Henderson finally broke Paul Nicholls’ stranglehold on the UK National Hunt Trainers’ Championship last season and Ladbrokes have made the Seven Barrows-handler the 1/5 favourite to retain his crown.
After seven consecutive years of Nicholls dominance, Henderson claimed the Champion Trainer title for a third time having landed back-to-back gongs in the mid-eighties.
Henderson’s four victories at this year’s Cheltenham Festival outshone Nicholls’ sole score with only Salubrious in the Martin Pipe delivering for the latter.
By contrast Henderson’s stars took Grade 1 honours in three of the signature races at Prestbury Park with Simonsig, Sprinter Sacre and Bobs Worth all obliging.
It was a campaign that saw the trainer’s total prize money edge towards the £3m mark, nearly £600,000 more than his rival collected.
And with those stars all set to re-emerge for another assault on racing’s top prizes the Henderson camp will be confident of more success.
Sprinter Sacre remains unrivalled and the ‘Black Aeroplane’ will have few onlookers betting against the seven-year-old adding to his chasing honours. The 1/5 about him claiming successive Champion Chase victories is difficult to oppose.
Bobs Worth exerted every last ounce of energy to win last year’s Gold Cup and can be backed at 3/1 to follow up. Nicholls’ hopeful Silviniaco Conti fell three fences out when travelling well and is the current third favourite with odds of 8/1 to claim the hallowed prize.
The anticipated return of Big Buck’s will offer a boost for Nicholls having missed the chance to win a fifth straight World Hurdle in 2013.
However, the Ditcheat trainer’s split with jockey Ruby Walsh leaves a huge void for replacement Daryl Jacob to fill with the promoted man now in charge of fulfilling the potential in his employer’s stable.
It remains to be seen whether the 7/2 for a Nicholls National Hunt title win represents good value.
But for now it’s Henderson’s crop that remain in the ascendancy and their star shows no sign of waning just yet.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.