Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
Top horse-racing tips and the latest news.
NICKY Henderson has described the Randox Grand National as the race “everyone would love to win” as he prepares the consistent Mister Coffey for the Aintree showpiece on April 15.
The six-time champion trainer has won a sack-full of major events since taking out a licence almost 45 years ago; his major wins include Cheltenham Gold Cups with Long Run in 2011 and Bobs Worth in 2013.
The Lambourn handler’s CV also includes three victories in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park, scoring with Long Run (2010 and 2012) and Might Bite (2017). At the Cheltenham Festival Henderson’s victories include six Queen Mother Champion Chases and a record nine wins in the Champion Hurdle.
Yet the 72-year-old’s best results in the National have been to twice finish second and this week Henderson described the Grand National is “the obvious race he would like to win.”
“I’m not going to suddenly leap up and say, ‘That’s it’, and retire, but, on the other hand, it would complete the journey, if you like,” said Henderson whose best place finishers were Zongalero (second to Rubstic in 1979) and The Tsarevich (second to Maori Ventrue in 1987).
“It’s been a long haul and I haven’t finished yet, but that is the obvious race I’d love to win – doesn’t everyone? I’m sure anyone who’s won the race wants to go on and win it again because it’s very special. We’ve been knocking on the door a few times,” Henderson said to the Racing Post.
“I love the place,” he continued. “The race is very special. “It’s completely different to Cheltenham. Luckily, we’ve been fortunate enough to have some of the best horses around and therefore you’re a player at Cheltenham at the highest level and that’s where it really matters. But this race is unique. It’s a completely different game. It would be a pity not to find one someday but the clock is ticking.”
“We ran Mister Coffey in the Topham [over the Grand National fences] last year and he enjoyed jumping round there then. He’s in good form and ran a very good race at Cheltenham [when third] in the National Hunt Chase.
“He’s been placed in everything you can throw at him (including the last two Cheltenham Festivals). He can’t win anything but that’s a bit like me in the National! He’s perfectly capable of it and it’s nice to be going in there with a horse who has a chance.”
Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ for top horse racing tips and the latest news.