Did you know that Nicky Henderson has had 31 attempts at winning the John Smiths Grand National and never done so? With two seconds (Zongalero 1979, The Tsarevich), a third (Classified 1986), a fourth (Brown Windsor 1990) and two fifths (Classified 1985 and Liberthine 2007), Henderson appears to be vying with Paul Nicholls for the title of ‘Always the bridesmaid, never the bride” when it comes to training a Grand National winner.
This year however he could be in with a very realistic shot as he plans to prepare Shakalakaboomboom for the race of his life and potentially his own career. With a seasonal tally of 115 winners so far, Henderson is definitely a trainer on form and of course a Grand National title at the end of it all would be the icing on the cake. Considering he also has Binocular, Sprinter Sacre and Long Run at Cheltenham, it could well be a season to remember for him.
With three entries at present, Burton Port on 11-07 and Quantitativeeasing on 11-02, Shakalakaboomboom on 10-12 looks like his best bet. He may only be 8 years old, and that would certainly put some punters off backing him, but he’s already gotten around the tough Aintree fences when he finished seventh to Always Waining in last year’s John Smith’s Topham Chase.
Henderson said: “He has a handy weight and he has jumped around there. He has done everything right. He has won at Cheltenham, he won at Punchestown. He ran a very good race in the Great Yorkshire and he looks the sort of horse you can go there with.
“He is one of our more likely contestants and would have a realistic chance.
“It would be about time if we won it. We have been trying long enough.”