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Horse Racing profile: Nicky Henderson

Nicky Henderson is Britain's most successful trainer at the Cheltenham Festival, with the Seven Barrows supremo trailing only Willie Mullins in the all-time Cotswolds roll of honour.

His record in the Cotswolds showpiece is simply stunning over more than four decades and he shows no signs of slowing down.

Henderson's latest in a conveyor belt of superstars is Constitution Hill – the outstanding and unbeaten Champion Hurdle hero in 2023.

Four decades of unmatched success

Come the 2024 Cheltenham Festival, Henderson will be just one year shy of celebrating the 40th anniversary of his win with See You Then in the 1985 Champion Hurdle, the first of his running tally of 73 winners at the meeting.

See You Then was an outstanding talent and would go on to record a hat-trick of wins in the Champion Hurdle – a feat only matched by the mighty Istabraq in the intervening years. 

Henderson, meanwhile, has gone on to win a record nine Champion Hurdles, with the likes of Punjabi (2009), Binocular (2010), Buveur D'Air (2017, 2018), Epatante (2020) and Constitution Hill adding to his tally.

Perhaps no Nicky Henderson Cheltenham runners have been more exhilarating than the 2023 hero.

Constitution Hill the darling of Seven Barrows

Winner of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in 2022 by a 20-plus length margin in a course record time, Constitution Hill is the undoubted star of National Hunt racing right now.

The Michael Buckley-owned star completed his second unbeaten season in 2022/23 by winning the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, the Champion Hurdle and the Aintree Hurdle.

He stepped up to two-and-a-half-miles at Aintree having breezed clear to win in the Cotswolds in March.

There have been other stars to pass through Henderson's Seven Barrows stables but perhaps Constitution Hill might just be the brightest of them all.

Sprinter's glorious renaissance sparks joy

Henderson has enjoyed his share of star turns down through the decades, with the likes of Altior and Shishkin to the fore in recent times.

The horse that tugged most on his heartstrings was almost certainly Sprinter Sacre. Dubbed the 'Black Aeroplane' in the wake of successes in the Arkle in 2012 and the Queen Mother Champion Chase a year later, he was a perfect ten-from-ten over fences after his win at Punchestown in April 2013.

He was longs odds-on for his return in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton the following Christmas but audible gasps were heard when Barry Geraghty pulled him up midway through the race.

An irregular heartbeat was detected and Sprinter Sacre was sidelined for 386 days before finishing second to Dodging Bullets in the Clarence House at Ascot in January 2015.

He was pulled up in the Champion Chase as the same rival won and then only second in the bet365 Celebration Chase at Sandown to complete a miserable season.

It seemed as though he'd lost his way entirely. Henderson nursed him back to his best and there were joyous scenes when he won the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham the following November before adding the Desert Orchid at Kempton.

He ran down front-running Un De Sceaux to regain the Queen Mother Champion Chase crown in 2016 in one of the most uplifting results Cheltenham has ever witnessed.

He went to Sandown a month later, won the Celebration Chase by 15 lengths and bowed out a champion – trained by a genius!

Long Run ends long wait

By 2011, Henderson had won almost everything the jumps game had to offer but a Cheltenham Gold Cup still eluded him.

Long Run ended that wait in the hands of amateur rider Sam Waley-Cohen, the pair seeing off Gold Cup icons Denman and Kauto Star in second and third for a memorable success that completed Henderson's set of the Championship races in the Cotswolds.

Bobs Worth and Barry Geraghty would give Henderson more Blue Riband glory in 2013.

Now in the twilight of his career, and with Constitution Hill to look forward to, there's just one piece of the jigsaw missing – a Grand National. He's never won any of the majors at Aintree, Ayr, Chepstow or Fairyhouse and would dearly love to alter that stat.

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