WHITSBURY trainer Paul Henderson says he can no longer compete against the bigger yards and has relinquished his licence after 18 years. He now plans to take up equine dentistry after completing a course.

The affable Henderson, who has sent out more than 140 winners principally around the Sussex tracks of Fontwell and Plumpton, has been finding it increasingly difficult to purchase quality horses at the lower end of the market. Money, he says, talks.

"We've been priced out," he explained. 

With no wealthy owners to bankroll him, he was always forced to locate cheap horses, often in Ireland, but he says they now cost double that price and the big stables have become even bigger which has left him disadvantaged. 

"We have tried to target races with a bit more money, but in novice races, you're up against expensive point-to-point winners and in handicaps, you're bumping into rivals that are well handicapped."

His best horse was undoubtedly Doitforthevillage who thrived at Cheltenham. His other leading chaser Crossley Tender almost gave him what would have been the highlight of his career when he jumped into the lead at the last fence in the lucrative Eider Chase at Newcastle in 2021 but was caught close home.

Before racing, he was an army farrier in the veterinary corps, but after 25 years in the service, he left and worked in a similar capacity for trainer David Elsworth in the New Forest village, tending in particular the legendary Desert Orchid who suffered from corns. In 2005, he decided to strike out on his own, his first runner finishing second in a bumper at Exeter and he went on to win races on the flat and national hunt. 

On his website, he said: "As a small yard, our success is built on ensuring we provide a friendly service to all our owners and their horses. With access to some of the best gallops in the country, we are becoming successful as a dual-purpose yard with winners on the flat and over the jumps."

His last five years had provided 24 winners, producing earnings of more £300,000.

Sadly, that dream has now died, and his last runner was Kylenoe Dancer who finished third in a novice chase at Newton Abbot on June 7. Significantly, he tweeted afterwards of the performance: "Great ride from Sean Houlihan today. This could be the last race as retirement is imminent."