Nicky Henderson plotting comeback route for long-absent but highly regarded Doddie Weir charity horse

Doddiethegreat: absent since a mightily impressive novice hurdle win in November 2021
Doddiethegreat: absent since a mightily impressive novice hurdle win in November 2021Credit: Alan Crowhurst

The long-absent Doddiethegreat, part of a brilliant crop of novice hurdlers for Nicky Henderson two years ago, will not return to action at Fontwell on Sunday as planned, but the trainer hopes he can soon make up for lost time and even considered a race at Ballinrobe on Monday for the forgotten seven-year-old.

The son of Fame And Glory, Doddiethegreat runs in the Honeysuckle colours of breeder Kenny Alexander, who has pledged to donate all prize-money won to the foundation of the horse's namesake Doddie Weir, the former Scottish rugby international who died at the age of 52 last November after suffering from motor neurone disease.

The gelding won a bumper at Ludlow in November 2020 and a similar race the following March at Huntingdon, before winning on his hurdling debut in the autumn of 2021.

He has not been seen since after suffering a serious leg injury that day, but returned to Henderson's Seven Barrows yard in Lambourn this spring and has pleased the trainer.

Nicky Henderson surveys the track on Sunday morning Cheltenham 12.3.23 Pic: Edward Whitaker
Nicky Henderson: trainer holds Doddiethegreat in high regardCredit: Edward Whitaker

Conditions at Fontwell have scuppered a comeback run, but Henderson is keen to count on Doddiethegreat in the autumn.

'He's given us no problems'

"He won't run this weekend," he said. "He had that leg problem, but I've been really happy with him. He's ready to run, but the ground is just a bit quick. He had a tricky injury and the prognosis at first wasn't great, but we've been delighted by him, he's given us no problems.

"We're going to let him off for a bit now and he'll go back to Kenny's place for a short break. Hopefully, he can continue to contribute to the foundation when he comes back, as he was a really promising horse."

Henderson is no stranger to runners at Punchestown, but had considered aiming at a new destination on Monday with Doddiethegreat.

He added: "The handicapper has been fair because he's given him a rating after just one run over hurdles and I didn't think he would. Therefore, I actually found a race for him at Ballinrobe next week for horses who haven't won a race worth more than €15,000. I was prepared to take him to Ballinrobe, but he can run off 131 in a 0-130 handicap, which is why he was entered at Fontwell. 

"He won't be spending a long time in the field and hopefully we'll see him in the autumn in a handicap hurdle."

More information how Doddie Weir's foundation can be support is available at

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James BurnLambourn correspondent
Published on 26 May 2023Last updated 08:19, 26 May 2023