Nicky Henderson vs Willie Mullins. Who Will Win at This Year’s Cheltenham?

Grad III Races at Cheltenham Festival

At Cheltenham, Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins have consistently remained the top two trainers in recent years. The only thing separating them is one win, with Nicky Henderson being in the number one spot at present.

These two horse racers have been in fierce competition for quite some time, always having the desire to gain more wins over the other. This, of course, is mostly down to the success of the horses they train. But with new young horses entering all the time, it’s challenging to work out just how long they will remain at the highest spot on the leaderboard.

Nicky Henderson Remains in the Number One Spot…

With 55 winners in total, Nicky Henderson is one of horse racing’s all-time greats. Although he has fallen behind his main competitor Willie Mullins on several occasions, he remains the most successful trainer in the event’s history.

Between the two of them, there has always been an ongoing battle to win the number one spot. Although there have been individual triumphs between them. Such as when seven of his horses came first in 2012. Subsequently, this allowed him to break the record for most wins at a festival, although this didn’t last long.


Nevertheless, you can’t ignore the fact that back in 2017, both Top Notch and Buveur D’Air won different races. Although Henderson probably won’t lose his place at the top for overall wins, anything can happen in this uncertain game.

…Followed by Willie Mullins in Second Place

Willie Mullins first experienced horses at a young age, when he helped his father, the one and only Paddy Mullins in 1988 in his day to day duties. It wasn’t until 2011 that he managed to get his name out there when he was beginning to be recognised as one of the most successful trainers, achieving an impressive four wins. With this year’s Prestbury Cup gearing up to be a battle between Ireland and Britain, will there be yet more success on the cards for Mullins during this year’s Cheltenham Festival

He was overtaken a year after by his competitor Nicky Henderson who has managed to overtake Mullins each festival after that. 2015 was a particularly successful year for Mullins who achieved eight wins in total, then an impressive eight the year after.

There was doubt that another win for the 8th year running would occur because Faugheen and Min were unavailable. A real blow to Mullins who was expected to do well with them.

Nevertheless, there was still some hope with both Djakadam and Vroum Vroum Mag who made an appearance in the Gold Cup.


Further successes came for Mullins in 2019 with seven winners in total, once again surpassing Nicky Henderson as one of the most successful trainers of all time at the festival, totalling sixty-one successes. Nevertheless, the fact that some of Hendersons winners the previous year were in the feature races cannot be overlooked, such as the seventh Grade 1 Unibet Champion Hurdle through Buveur d’Air and 5th grade 1 Queen Mother Champion Chase by Altior.

Horses to Look Out For in 2020

As far as Nicky Henderson is concerned, there are three horses to look out for in this year’s race.

Champ looks very promising, not only winning back to back at Newbury but also as a grade 1 winning form as a novice hurdler last season. Something similar could be expected this term, the odds being around 7/1. Let’s see what happens when Champ returns to Cheltenham for the RSA Chase this year.

Altior is another one to keep your eye on. This ten-year-old horse has won the last four events at Cheltenham in a row, plus nineteen other races without fail, despite one. The odds for Altior this year are 4/1.

Finally, Floressa is expected to achieve great things at this year’s event with high odds of around 10/1. Keep your eyes peeled for Cheltenham day 3 tips as this novice mare who was the winner of two out of three hurdle sets is likely to turn up in the Grade 2 dawn run on the third day of Cheltenham.

Contrastingly, the two horses to keep an eye on this time around from Willie Mullins are Benie Des Dieux and Honeysuckle. The latter has only been involved in a couple of races and also has the yard skills plus physique to do well this time around. We’re guessing that this horse will take part in the Mares Hurdle race or even the Open Championship hurdle.

Laurina also looks promising. A horse that travelled well last year in the Championship Hurdle, despite some hiccups. We think this horse deserves another chance this time around — other up and coming horses to watch out for include Roksana, Stormy Ireland and Cauldron of Cheltenham.

Or if you’re putting all your hope into the new mares, there will be lots to choose from in 2020 as they compete in the Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.


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