Trainer Profile – Nicky Henderson

If you follow UK horse racing, Nicky Henderson is practically a household name, and if you’re new to the sport, you should get to know more about him. Here’s a look at one of the nation’s top trainers and why you should give his horses your attention when you’re betting to improve your profitability from your horse racing results. Born in 1950, Nicky Henderson is the son of well known racecourse owner Johnny Henderson, the founder of the Racecourse Holdings Trust, now called the Jockey Club Racecourses. This organisation owns many of the UK’s most notable racecourses, including Aintree, Cheltenham, Epsom and the July Course and Rowley Mile at Newmarket. After attending Eton College, Nicky Henderson rode as an amateur jockey and then worked as an assistant to famous trainer Fred Winter. Henderson started his own training yard in 1978 and over the years has won many of the top jump races as well as a few notable Flat races. A member of the Lambourn Trainers Association, Nicky Henderson is based at Seven Barrows near Lambourne in Berkshire. He has an impressive 175 horses under his care and has been the British Jump Racing Champion Trainer three times. Over his career, Henderson has had more than 2,000 winners, including more than 50 at the Cheltenham Festival. He is known for producing spectacular jumping competitors year after year. Some of Nicky Henderson’s most renowned winners include the following which will bring back fond memories to many of those who followed them: ● See You Then ● Punjabi ● Binocular ● Remittance Man ● Caracciola ● Bobs Worth ● Simonsig ● Long Run ● Sprinter Sacre Nicky Henderson has been training long enough to employ a number of racing strategies that have landed him in the winner’s circle quite frequently. He’s very adept at judging a horse’s best running distance and how well any horse will do on various going, or “ground,” as he refers to it. Henderson maintains a stable of several horse breeds, including both Thoroughbreds and Selle Français horses, the latter known for their superb jumping skills and natural athleticism. Nicky Henderson also knows how to play into the age cycles that periodically affect his stable. When he has older horses, he learns their every in and out, so he knows exactly how to place them in a race. He’s patient with younger horses too, which some trainers disparage due to their lack of experience. Henderson sees their raw potential. He’s a keen believer in “bumpers” as a way to introduce new horses to National Hunt races and to check out their prospective talent. “Bumpers,” in case you tend to skip over them on the race card, are officially known as National Hunt Flat Races, which sounds like a bit of an oxymoron. These are flat races for inexperienced horses that are being targeted for hurdles or steeplechases to get them used to the distances and the large fields before introducing them to jumps. National Hunt Flat Races are called “bumpers” because they used to be run by amateur jockeys, and the lack of experience all around led to a lot of bumping on the racecourse. Henderson gets terrific horse racing results by utilizing these often overlooked events, but he rarely places a horse in a field of more than 15. Racing National Hunt Flat Races and giving younger horses a chance are part of Henderson’s philosophy that “there are no bankers,” no horses that are ever guaranteed to win, no matter what conventional wisdom dictates. Nicky Henderson hasn’t been without his share of controversy. In 2009, he was fined and suspended from British racing for three months after a horse he trained for the Queen, Moonlit Path, was revealed after the race to have tested positive for tranexamic acid. This drug, which had been commonly used to prevent excess bleeding in racehorses, has been banned at UK racecourses as a performance enhancer; Henderson argued he had administered it for the horse’s benefit. The next time you watch a race and see one of Nicky Henderson’s horses on the card, you may think more about backing it. Given his breadth of experience and winning record, you could do far worse when betting a trainer. This article is courtesy of John Hawthorne. Originally from Canada John’s interest in horse racing began at an early age. After traveling abroad his interest became a passion. He now is a full time sports writer and focuses on Australian horse racing.