Nicky Henderson reclaims Champion Trainer award
The sudden end to the jumps season means that the various awards and titles have had to be handed out early, and the result of this is that Nicky Henderson has regained his Champion Trainer title. In the past few years, Henderson has been a standout figure in horse racing, and his 118 wins in this season are proof of why he is so highly regarded by everyone associated with the sport.
It means that Henderson has taken the prize back from Paul Nicholls’ grasp, the latter having won the award last season to deny Henderson what would have been his third successive title. But Henderson has improved his results in the season just past to win it back and earn his sixth Champion Trainer title in his horse racing career, perhaps no surprise for a man whose horses are often considered among the favourites in today’s racecards.
Speaking after the announcement that both he and jockey Brian Hughes had been awarded the respective Champion Trainer and Champion Jockey titles, Henderson said: “It’s a great pity that we haven’t been able to see the season out and it looked like the race was going down to the wire again at Sandown Park. But all of us know that the current situation is bigger than racing and something that everyone in the country is having to deal with and face.”
While Henderson was, of course, pleased to win back his title, he was quick to heap praise upon those who have helped him earn the accolade.
He said: “I would like to thank all of the owners that have enabled us to win this year’s Trainers’ Championship – it really is a testament to them and the horses that we have in our yard. Seven Barrows as a team are extremely proud of this title and my staff have been amazing, as they always are, and are doing everything they can to make sure all the horses are looked after during this time.”
Henderson can look back on a fine season, which included four winners at the Cheltenham Festival. While that total was eclipsed by both Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott, it is still no mean feat, although the competitor within Henderson will be eager to go a few steps further next year and claim the most wins at Cheltenham for the first time since 2012.
It’s important that he continues to identify areas where he can gain more success, and Cheltenham is certainly one area. He has been forced to watch on as Mullins has dominated the leading trainer statistics for several years, winning the title in six of the last eight years. Henderson has earned that accolade on three occasions in the past, but it’s clear that in recent years his results at Cheltenham have not truly reflected his success at other events.
But that is nit-picking, and the overall takeaway from the most recent jumps season is that Henderson is a trainer still operating at the highest level of the sport, and is one of the biggest names in horse racing. When the sport finally gets underway once again, the battle will commence to see who, if anyone, can dethrone Henderson as the dominant trainer in jumps racing.