As February turns into March, there is a certain air of anticipation at Seven Barrows, Nicky Henderson’s Lambourn yard, as he arrays his battalions for the battle that is The Cheltenham Festival. Spring is just around the corner, and with it comes what Nicky regards as the four most prestigious days of the National Hunt Calendar.

With 70 winners already on his Festival score sheet to almost match his number of years, Lambourn’s senior NH trainer once again approaches this week with a formidable team, while not so long on quantity, certainly as deep as ever in quality.

The first race on day one, Tuesday, is always a good place to start, The Supreme Novices Hurdle. It always a good one to get in the bag. Constitution Hill, under Nico de Boinville, unbeaten in two runs, including the Grade 1 Tolworth,  has as good a chance as, I feel, we have had since Altior in 2016. The high profile Jonbon, also unbeaten in three runs since moving to the Barrows, will also have his supporters too .

Champion Hurdle winner of 2020, Epatante bids to regain her crown having finished third in the race last year. She has had a trouble free prep for the race this year, winning The Christmas Hurdle, and deadheating in Newcastle’s Fighting Fifth. If last year’s winner, the Irish trained Honeysuckle, is in anyway off her game, Epatante will be ready to take advantage.

Nico is greatly looking forward to his ride on Shishkin, last year’s Arkle winner. Shishkin has collected both the Ascot Victor Chandler Chase, and the Desert Orchid Chase this season, despite missing his expected early season target, The Tingle Creek due to a slight chest infection. He has been brought to the boil with his trainer’s impeccable timing, and will be short odds to land The Queen Mother’s Champion Chase on Wednesday.

Chantry House, who just beat Santini in January’s Cotswold Chase at the track, made it look hard work and did not jump with his usual fluency . However, a correction to his back has seen a big change in the horse at home, and Nicky is pretty adamant we will see a different horse in next Friday’s Gold Cup.

Champ, a one time Gold Cup contender, who reverted to hurdles, and seemed to be loving it when winning The Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot first time out this season in great style, will line up for The Stayers Hurdle. Whilst old stager, Paisley Park will take some beating, if in the form that won him The Cleeve Hurdle for trainer Emma Lavelle .

Broomfield Burg, Maries Rock, First Street, Balco Coastal, Mill Green, Mr Fisher and Mr Coffey add to a stella line up in a week that promises set the Cotswolds alight!

Courtesy of Charlie Morlock - Racing Manager at Nicky Henderson’s.

Nicky Henderson (@sevenbarrows) · Twitter

See all images
cotswolds properties

Mrs Tucker June 2020

Butler Sherborn was a delight and pleasure to work with. Once again thank you so much for all you help and exceeding our expectations and much more.
— Nicki and Brian Lee, January 2021