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8 Mar 2021

Nicky Henderson Bidding For First Grand National Win

Leading British trainer Nicky Henderson has been Champion Trainer on six occasions and has won many of the sport’s leading races, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Chase, and Champion Hurdle. 

One race the Seven Barrows-based trainer has yet to win is the Grand National, a contest he will be desperate to prevail in before he retires. It has been 42 years now since Henderson had his first runner in the world’s most famous steeplechase. In 1979 he saddled Zongolero, who finished second behind Rubustic, the closest he has gone to the winner’s trophy. 

Henderson’s best chance of ending that wait for a Grand National win this year could come through Santini. Last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up is 14/1 in the Grand National betting in 2021 with Paddy Power.

The nine-year-old was a Grade One winner as a novice as he claimed the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree during the Grand National meeting in 2018. He proved his class again last season, finishing just a neck behind Al Boum Photo in the Blue Riband event of the Cheltenham Festival. 

Given what he has achieved over fences, it is no surprise that the handicapper has handed Santini the joint-highest weight of 11st 10lb in the Grand National this year. No horse has won with that weight since Red Rum was successful in 1974 with 12st.

Santini is set to have another shot at the Cheltenham Gold Cup before he appears at Aintree a month later. He has yet to jump the Grand National fences at the Merseyside Racecourse. 

Ok Corral And Pym Also In The Grand National Mix 

Henderson is also likely to be represented in the Aintree contest by OK Corral and Pym. Those two horses are inside the top 40 ratings at the latest declaration stage and they have odds of 33/1 and 50/1 respectively with the bookmakers.

Ok Corral is in good form at the moment as he won a Listed contest on his last outing at Doncaster. That has helped him get a rating of 151 ahead of the weight’s launch for the Grand National. He is set to feature one more time before Aintree. 

With three wins from six outings, OK Corral has an excellent record over fences. Henderson did highlight the Grand National as a target earlier this season. His owner J.P McManus famously won the race in 2010 with Don’t Push It and he’d love to have another success. 

Pym is also a Listed winner this season as he prevailed at Sandown where he made all over 3m. He has not appeared since finishing fifth of 10 runners at Newcastle back in November. The handicapper dropped him down to a mark of 153 on the back of that run. 

Henderson has stated he believes Pym has the stamina to do really well in the contest at Aintree in April. He is also very happy with the weight his horse has been given. 

If he can get his hands on the Grand National trophy this season, it will feel like Henderson has completed the full set of big race wins throughout his illustrious career.