Grand National Festival: The Nicky Henderson-trained horses to follow at Aintree - The Stratford Observer

Grand National Festival: The Nicky Henderson-trained horses to follow at Aintree

Stratford Editorial 5th Apr, 2024 Updated: 12th Apr, 2024   0

To say the last couple of months have been tough for veteran trainer Nicky Henderson would be an understatement.

The Seven Barrows handler had a disastrous Cheltenham Festival last month, with many horses withdrawn from their respective races while the majority of those who did compete didn’t run to scratch.

The fallout from that has continued to rumble on, with stable star Constitution Hill rushed to veterinary hospital to battle colic.

He certainly won’t race again this season, but Henderson is gearing up a strong contingent to head to Aintree for the upcoming Grand National Festival. While he doesn’t have a runner in the showpiece race if you’re looking to bet on Grand National 2024, the 73-year-old will be hoping to bounce back at Aintree.

So, without further ado, let’s assess some of Henderson’s best chances at the Grand National Festival.

Sir Gino – Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle

Sir Gino was one of Seven Barrows’ disappointing absentees at the recent Cheltenham Festival, as the exciting youngster missed his Triumph Hurdle bid on the final day.

Snapped up by Marie Donnelly after making a winning start on debut at Auteuil last April, the four-year-old was impressive on his first appearance for Henderson when winning by 14 lengths at Kempton.

A comfortable victory over Burdett Road in the Grade 2 Finesse Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham in January affirmed Sir Gino’s class and saw him being slashed to odds on for the Triumph.

As already mentioned, he missed that Grade 1 contest. However, he’s expected to return in the Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree.

Jonbon – Melling Chase

Fan favourite Jonbon was another notable absentee from the Cheltenham Festival, being scratched from the Champion Chase on the morning of the second day.

The eight-year-old started the campaign with back-to-back graded wins at Cheltenham and Sandown but was disappointing when last seen, finishing second back at Prestbury Park for the Clarence House Chase in January.

Not many were giving him a chance against his old rival El Fabiolo in the Champion Chase. However, with the Willie Mullins star pulled up after five fences, it might have been a missed opportunity for Jonbon to take a prize.

He looks likely to be routed for the Melling Chase, which would be a step up to two miles and four furlongs. But the extended distance will not be an issue and he should be one of the favourites in the Aintree racing betting odds.

Shishkin – Aintree Bowl

Despite being an inconsistent performer, refusing to race at Ascot in November before unseating Nico De Boinville in the King George VI Chase, Shishkin excited punters and pundits alike when winning the Denman Chase at Newbury.

That initially set up a crack at the prestigious Gold Cup and Shishkin was close to the fore of the betting before being pulled out of the race by Henderson on Cheltenham week.

It would have taken an immense effort from the 10-year-old to beat defending champion Galopin Des Champs anyway.

Shishkin will now likely go back to Aintree to attempt to retain the Bowl, which he won when beating Ahoy Senior last year. And while he’s unbeaten at the Merseyside track, Gerri Colombe will be stiff competition.

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