TRAINER Nicky Henderson will head the British bid to enjoy a successful time of things at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival next March.
Last year’s meeting was dominated by Irish horses and many pundits believe that it will be a similar story in the spring.
However, Henderson will have a strong squad at his disposal including Shishkin, who is strongly fancied to come out on top in the two-mile Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Read on as we take a closer look at some of the other potential superstars from Henderson’s stable that could make their mark at the Festival.
Balco Coastal won on his debut for the stable in a bumper at Kempton in February before disappointing when favourite for the Grade 2 bumper at Aintree.
He worked impressively in the run-up to the latter event and looked to be on course for victory when taking the lead with just over two furlongs to run.
However, he weakened quickly on the run-in to eventually finish seventh behind some talented rivals including Knappers Hill and Stage Star.
The Paul Nicholls-trained pair have already franked the form over hurdles this season and Balco Coastal could well follow in their footsteps.
Firestep kicked off his career with a low key win in a Southwell bumper last year, before following up with a stylish win at Chepstow during March.
He made smooth progress three furlongs out to take the lead in the latter event, and powered clear to win cosily despite showing signs of greenness.
The horse has plenty of scope and has reportedly schooled impressively over hurdles during the past few weeks.
He should have no problem staying two and a half miles this season and may well be an exciting proposition when the Festival comes around.
Jonbon is the latest ‘talking horse’ at Seven Barrows and did little to dampen that enthusiasm on his recent seasonal appearance at Newbury.
The £570,000 purchase is a full-brother to Douvan and appears to be in the same class judging by his performance at the Berkshire track.
Jockey Adrian Coleman sent Jonbon into the lead at the third flight and never had a moment’s worry as his mount cruised clear to win by a hard-held six-lengths.
The bookmakers immediately installed Jonbon as the favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham – it will take a good horse to beat him.
Dusart made a winning debut over hurdles at Newbury last November, before finishing third in the Grade 1 Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree in April.
He looked on course to win the latter event with two furlongs to run, but was a lack of fitness told and he ran out of steam close to home.
The six-year-old is half-brother to Simonsig – a horse that Henderson had plenty of success with a few years ago.
Dusart will eventually be an excellent chaser, but he could easily make up into a top-class hurdler as this season progresses.