Some of my rivals peak from the word go – I prefer to play the longer game
The champion trainer is warming up nicely with a promise of much more to come. With 11 winners in October you can’t say it’s been a slow start for Paul Nicholls, but neither has he raced out of the blocks like he did in 2016 and 2017.
“I’ve never known a start to a season quite like this one,” says the 11-time title holder. “The horses have held on to their condition and never taken so long to get fit. Some of them have had racecourse gallops to bring them on, but there’s only so much you can do at home and in the end you have to give them a run – and some of them have needed it.”
Nicholls offers another reason for the quieter start: “Some of my younger rivals bring theirs to peak fitness from the word go nowadays, whereas I prefer to play the longer game. We have to remember, it’s a long season and I’m in less of a hurry than I used to be at this time of year.”
winners in the last fortnight, including two at Wincanton’s popular Badger
Beers meeting on Saturday where he always excels, have signalled a marked
change of tempo and the likes of Politologue, Getaway Trump and exciting French
import Mick Pastor will spearhead a strong team at Cheltenham this weekend.
Nicholls looked out on his second yard at Highbridge Stables the other evening, complete with 11 new boxes put up in September, and said: “This is some ammo we’ve got here. I can’t wait for the future!”
Yard Manor Farm Stables
Where Ditcheat, Somerset
Second yard Highbridge Farm, Alhampton, Somerset
Started training October 19, 1991
Horses in yard 140
Members of staff 50
Head lad Clifford Baker
Assistant trainer Harry Derham
Assistant head lad David Rochester
Pupil assistant trainers Natalie Parker, Charlie Davies
Assistant head lass Kate McCormack, Rose Loxton
Travelling head girl Kate Nutt
Assistant travelling head girl Trudie Smith
Jockeys Harry Cobden, Sam Twiston-Davies, Bryony Frost, Sean Bowen, Brendan Powell, Harry Skelton, Katie O’Farrell
Conditionals Lorcan Williams, Bryan Carver
Amateurs Will Biddick, Natalie Parker, Matt Hampton, Harriet Tucker, Angus Cheleda
PA Hannah Roche, Sarah West
Finance Lina Chadburn
Stable sponsor Morson Group
Winners in Britain
Profit/loss to £1 stake
Adrien Du Pont
Pedigree: seven-year-old gelding
Califet (sire) – Santariyka (dam)
Owner: Mrs Johnny de la Hey
Racing Post Rating 153 chase
Official Rating 147 chase
I fancied him to be in the first four when he was pulled up at Ascot nine days ago. It’s looking more like he wants an easy 3m nowadays, so we may even consider dropping him in trip next time. Has plenty of ability but still inclined to be a bit keen. He needs to be dropped right out and come late – tactics that don’t always work out. When he gets a bit of luck in running there’s a decent handicap chase to be won with him.
As De Mee
9g Kapgarde – Koeur De Mee
Stewart family & Judi Dench
RPR 153c OR 148c
He picked up a tendon injury in February last year and ended up missing the whole season. Andy [Stewart, owner] is sponsoring a 3m handicap hurdle at Cheltenham this week, so he’ll have a run there, which he’s bound to need, before going to Aintree next month for either the Becher or the Sefton. He loves it round there, having won the Grand Sefton in 2016 and completed three times in total over the big fences. Come the spring he’ll be trained for the National.
5g Redoute’s Choice – Ashalanda
RPR 125h OR 119h
We realised last season his breathing was troubling him, so that was sorted in the summer and he could improve significantly for it. If he does then he’d look fairly treated off 119. Since he came back in mid-July his target has been the 0-125 novice handicap hurdle at Cheltenham on Friday. I just hope he doesn’t turn out to be a morning glory, as last season he never produced on the track what he was showing us at home.
Ask For Glory
5g Fame And Glory – Ask Helen
Mr and Mrs Paul Barber & Colm Donlon
Gorgeous type of horse, very much a chaser of the future but well up to winning over hurdles first. He bolted up on soft ground in his bumper, and then he was never going to win a race like the Champion Bumper but nothing was lost by giving him further experience. He’ll want some cut and we’ll take him to Chepstow or Newbury in about a fortnight for a maiden hurdle.
4g Footstepsinthesand – Valamareha
RPR 104h OR 114h
Decent Flat horse for Richard Hannon who didn’t run for us last winter. He’s had the full works done: he couldn’t breathe properly so we got that sorted, and then he was gelded and took some time to get over it. Has run a couple of tidy races over hurdles and was probably beaten by a smart horse [Scardura] at Taunton last time. Looks a fun horse.
Birds Of Prey
5g Sir Prancealot – Cute
RPR 130h OR 127h
Decent fun horse. We gave him a good break as he’d been on the go on the Flat and over jumps, and it was a bit embarrassing as he was as fat as anything when reappearing at Kempton last month. He needed it quite badly and he should go on and win a handicap hurdle.
8g Laverock – Pour Le Meilleur
The Brooks family & Jeremy Kyle
RPR 168c OR 163c
He keeps on amazing us and his last three runs suggest he’s still improving. I thought he had a really stiff task in the Galway Plate but he put up another career-best and would have finished closer still but for running into trouble off the home bend. Then he comes back at Ascot the other day off another career-high mark and runs another blinder. Being 10lb shy of top class means he’s not that easy to place, as his number of seconds suggests; I imagine we’ll have to go back into Graded races now and the Peterborough Chase might suit. Whatever happens in the winter his Gold Cup could well turn out to be the Oaksey Chase again at Sandown in April. He’s an absolute pleasure to train.
6g Oscar – My Name’s Not Bin
Owners Group 026
RPR 125h OR 128h
Showed promise in a couple of staying novice hurdles in the spring. He’ll be ready in a fortnight and is capable of winning a 3m novice hurdle on soft ground before switching to fences, which is where his future lies.
Bob And Co
8g Dom Alco – Outre Mer
David Maxwell Racing
RPR 135c OR 150c
He’s among our team of nine hunter chasers and one of the more interesting ones. A three-time winner over fences in France, he’s contested many of the country’s top races, over hurdles and fences. The others in the squad are Art Mauresque, Alcala, Lough Derg Spirit (whom Andy Stewart has brought as a replacement for Pacha Du Polder), Bagad Bihoue, Braqueur D’Or, Wonderful Charm, Copain De Classe (who’ll run in the Grand Military Gold Cup), and Southfield Vic. I still get some flak over the horses we run in hunter chases but I don’t worry about it anymore; as I see it we’re giving horses a second career who have marks that don’t allow them to win handicaps and, more important, we’re giving valuable opportunities for a whole host of very promising young riders.
4g Brave Mansonnien – Genifique
John Dance & Bryan Drew
Big, scopey baby, a beautiful individual who cost plenty at the sales but was never going to come cheap having won his only point-to-point very impressively. That performance meant he was the highest-rated four-year-old pointer in Ireland, whatever that amounts to. Has taken a while to get fit and is sure to improve for his debut, but everyone in the yard likes him, so do I. We took him to Wincanton for a racecourse gallop the other day and he’s about a week off a run.
8g Crillon – Las De La Croix
RPR 142c OR 138c
Ran third in last season’s Grand Annual and those big handicaps at Cheltenham over 2m to 2m4f suit him. Ideally he wants a bit of cut and we’ll take a look at Saturday’s BetVictor Gold Cup. He’s been a bit unlucky one way or another but should pop up in a good handicap chase somewhere.
5g Aizavoski – Shaylee Wilde
The Hon Mrs Charlotte Townshend
The horse he beat in his Irish point-to-point in March last year is now a 142-rated hurdler. He sustained a hairline fracture of the pelvis while schooling last autumn, so we had to leave off him. The time off won’t be lost on him and he’s about a fortnight off a run. Nice horse.
4g Air Chief Marshal – Hill Ou Elle
RPR 122h OR 127h
Came here with some decent placed form in the French provinces. He didn’t jump well to start with and we’ve worked hard on that, even so last week’s Plumpton win was a welcome surprise and he had a bit in hand too. Should make up into a useful fun horse.
Cap Du Mathan
4g Kapgarde – Nounjya Du Mathan
RPR 113h OR 127h
Andy Stewart has re-invested heavily for this season, buying eight new ones, and this is a decent prospect. He showed promise on both his hurdling starts at Auteuil last year, and ran okay on his first run for us, although I should probably have run him in a maiden hurdle at Chepstow, not Cheltenham. He looked as big as anything in the paddock beforehand, so there should be loads of improvement to come and he ought to go close next time provided I find the right race. I love him.
7g Poliglote – Neiland
RPR 154c OR 143c
Poor old Capeland, that was extraordinary what happened the other day at Ascot. I feel a bit guilty because I told Kathy [Stuart, owner] I thought he’d go well and that our other runner, Diego Du Charmil, who ended up taking him out, was likely to need the run. She’s such a sporting lady and took the whole thing so well. Bearing in mind they disqualified Capeland I was hoping the handicapper would play fair and leave him on the same mark, so I was bitterly disappointed when they rang me to say he had been raised 3lb. If they saw fit to disqualify him from any prize-money then the run shouldn’t count for handicapping purposes. But I’m pleased to say following a few more phone calls they’ve had a re-think and dropped him back down 3lb, which is the right thing to do. Looking on the bright side, we have a horse who has clearly improved again despite a busy old campaign last season. He’s suited by a fast-run race so these big handicap chases suit him and there’s another very valuable one back at Ascot on the 23rd of the month. Let’s hope he can gain some consolation there.
7g Montmartre – Patte De Velour
Martin Broughton & Friends 2
RPR 142h OR 135h
Still useful on his day, as he showed when winning at Taunton last season, but I was convinced his breathing was stopping him late on in his races, so we had his palate re-cauterised in the summer. Showed a similar level form in both runs this season, the latest over a longer trip for the first time. Is better going right-handed on a Flat track so we take him to Kempton (today).
6g Black Sam Bellamy – Pearl Buttons
Mrs Angela Hart
RPR 147c OR 139c
Improved in his first season over fences and should develop into a decent staying handicap chaser. Loves cut in the ground and probably found it a bit too quick when running too fresh and with the choke out at Wincanton last month. Reappears at Fontwell on Sunday in the Sussex National and that should suit him. He’ll get an entry for the Welsh National and those other good long-distance handicaps.
5g Diamond Boy – Miss Canon
David Maxwell Racing
RPR 123h, OR –
Really promising addition to the team from France. He was not far off the best four-year-old chasers over there last year, despite not being a typical chaser on looks. David Maxwell bought him at the Arqana Sale last November to ride over here and won a £100,000 chase at Auteuil on him a few days later. He was a maiden over hurdles so that’s the route we’ve taken and he benefited from a step-up in trip when making all at Exeter last week. He’s up to defying a penalty and he’s got a real future.
4g Fast Company – Surf The Web
RPR 140h OR 140h
Took to hurdling really well; his third to Pentland Hills in the Aintree Grade 1 was good form and you can put a line through his latest outing as he was over the top. Had a breathing operation in the summer and should progress in his second season. Considering he’d been a bit behind the others he ran okay at Wincanton on Saturday and we’ll look now at the Gerry Feilden at Newbury, where the flat track will be ideal.
4f Imperial Monarch – Technohead
Big strong filly whom we bought after she made most of the running to win her only point-to-point. Needed the run on her debut in a fillies’ bumper at Aintree at the end of October; Bryony got off and said we should make more use of her on a stiffer track, so she’ll go to Cheltenham this weekend for the Listed mares’ bumper. She’s very much in the mould of Posh Trish.
Clan Des Obeaux
7g Kapgarde – Nausicaa Des Obeaux
Mr and Mrs Paul Barber, Ged Mason and Sir Alex Ferguson
RPR 176c OR 169c
I was thrilled with his comeback at Down Royal behind Road To Respect, when he jumped superbly. He’s made enormous improvement in the last 12 months, and being only seven is entitled to progress further. I certainly feel that’s the case after Down Royal because I know how much improvement he showed from his first run to his second last season. I came back from Ireland and backed him at 7-1 for the King George: to my mind last year’s winner is the one they’ve all got to beat on Boxing Day. Later in the season he’ll be entered for the Gold Cup again and we’ll take a view on that later on. He was bang there at the last in the spring but didn’t get home – as soon as the rain came on the morning of the race I suspected we might be in trouble. But with another year on his back and possibly on different ground, who knows?
Cliffs Of Dover
6g Canford Cliffs – Basanti
Mr and Mrs John Cotton
RPR 141h OR 141h
Has been off the track since the turn of the year; there’s been nothing seriously wrong, he just kept getting little niggles, which was annoying. Should be back to run in handicap hurdles from Christmas onwards and I’m sure he’ll have benefited from a nice long break.
4g Presenting – Bonnie Parker
One of the more forward youngsters, and he’s a
half-brother to our Persian War winner Ed Bandit. Made his bumper debut at Wincanton on Saturday and won nicely despite being green; Harry [Cobden] had a job pulling him up afterwards.
Coup De Pinceau
7g Buck’s Boum – Castagnette
RPR 142c OR 137c
Sound, reliable jumper with a laid-back attitude; he struggled a bit in Graded company last season and is never going to be a star but is a decent enough performer at modest handicap level. Ran well enough on his return and should soon be winning round the Ludlows, Tauntons and Wincantons.
7g Nickname – Narquille
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 181c OR 176c
He’s in great shape and everything’s going smoothly in the run-up to Ascot next weekend. We’ll take him for a racecourse gallop somewhere between now and then and he’ll be ready. It’s in the back of my mind that he ran those two underwhelming races at the start of last season, but we’re training him differently now, so it’s up to him to come out and reproduce the level of form he showed with those two impressive victories at Ascot at the turn of the year. He stayed 2m5f so well when he won the Ascot Chase I can’t believe he won’t get 3m, so it will hopefully be next stop the King George and then we’ll make a plan for Christmas onwards. It’s no secret his best form is going right-handed, so I’m happy to keep him that way round in the first half of the season.
7g Dansant – Aahsaypasty
Mr and Mrs Paul Barber, D Bennett & D Martin
RPR 138h OR 130h
Had been crying out for a breathing operation so we got that sorted over the summer and it’s clearly been a massive help, judged by the improvement he showed to win a handicap hurdle at Plumpton last week. Could go for another handicap hurdle at Newbury on Ladbrokes Trophy day, then we’ll have the option of going novice chasing – he’s won three point-to-points – or staying over hurdles. Mr Barber favours the first option, the other owners the second option, so that’s for them to agree on.
6g Scorpion – Sainte Baronne
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 140h OR 120h
Showed a lot of promise when runner-up in a Grade 2 novice hurdle at Ascot last season before suffering a small setback in February. He’ll resume over the hurdles in the spring and is probably well handicapped. We’ve always thought a lot of him.
6g Getaway – Lakil Princess
RPR 141h OR 139h
Big, old-fashioned chasing sort whose future was always going to be over fences. Surprised us a bit when showing a lot of improvement from his first outing to his second; didn’t run after March as he needs cut. Had a breathing operation in the summer and that could really help now he goes chasing; takes a bit of getting fit and we’ve pencilled him in for a 3m novice chase at Exeter at the end of the month.
6m Dansant – Screen Idol
Highclere Thoroughbred Racing
RPR 127h OR 129h
Lovely mare, who showed consistent form in novice hurdles last season, since when she had her wind done over the summer. We’re following the route we took with Posh Trish last season, so it was always the plan to take her to Wincanton on Saturday, where I fancied her but she was disappointing. She needed her first run last season so perhaps that’s what it was. We’ll stick to mares’ races this season.
6g Voix Du Nord – Rosalie Malta
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 134c OR 128c
Not an easy ride and has been too keen in his races. Ran quite well on his chasing debut at Ascot nine days ago and provided he relaxes should improve sufficiently to win a race over fences.
4f Frankel – Hurry Home Hillary
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 110h, OR 120h
Disappointed on her three runs for us, when she was much too keen and had trouble settling. We found she made a noise so she’s had a breathing op and we’ve started again from scratch. Seems more relaxed and I’m hopeful she can put those disappointments behind her on an easy track.
Diego Du Charmil
7g Ballingarry – Daramour
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 164c OR 156c
Spent much of last season chasing Altior in Graded races. We felt he was struggling with his breathing so he had an operation over the summer and it just goes to show what a difference that can make. The op helped him improve a few pounds and we were back in business at Ascot. It was unfortunate he went and followed the loose horse and virtually ducked out at the last – they can do that sometimes at Ascot, looking for the paddock exit – and I felt so sorry for Kathy Stuart that Capeland was taken out, as I said beforehand I thought Diego was the one who would need the race. I expected Diego to blow up in the straight but he actually went and ran on again after negotiating the birch upright at the last. His revised handicap mark will put him in no-man’s land and he won’t be easy to place. He’ll get an entry in the valuable Hurst Park Handicap Chase back at Ascot later this month and he may well be forced back into Graded races. Has done most of his racing at around 2m but I’m itching to try him over 2m4f.
6g Kapgarde – Redowa
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 162c OR 157c
I love his sire and I love him too! He’s a tough and genuine chaser who can be a bit in-and-out but is essentially decent. An impressive win under top weight at Kempton in May left him a bit in no-man’s land handicapping-wise, but he ran a good race in the Haldon Gold Cup last week, a race we had targeted since he came back in. He needs to improve again to remain competitive in decent handicaps, but being six has age on his side.
5g Jeremy – Guydus
RPR 133h OR 133h
Won three novice hurdles for us last season when he suffered on and off with sore shins; didn’t come down the hill at Cheltenham on his final run. Disappointed on soft on his Ffos Las chasing debut; probably wants better ground and is well up to winning races over fences provided we keep him at the right level. Suited by a flat track.
3g Buck’s Boum – Astre Eria
A particularly nice three-year-old who is doing everything nicely and is being aimed at a four-year-olds’ bumper at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
6g Buck’s Boum – Macadoun
RPR 162c OR 157c
It was only a minor injury he suffered last season but it meant his having to sit out the spring. He’s back in training and I’m going to try to get him ready for the Desert Orchid at Kempton over Christmas, but I suspect it will be the new year before we see him back. In that case I’d aim to get two runs into him before Cheltenham, when the Champion Chase will be his No. 1 aim although he’ll also get an entry for the Ryanair as it maybe he wants 2m4f now. His novice form stacks up well, with Ornua, who he beat at Sandown, and Kalashnikov, who finished behind him at Kempton, both going on to win Grade 1s at Aintree. His season is all about getting him to the second day of the festival in peak form.
5g Coastal Path – Maitresse De Maison
RPR 120h OR –
Bit of a giant, not a true bumper horse in appearance, so perhaps it wasn’t surprising he failed to step up on his debut win. Ran a bit green on his hurdling debut at Chepstow and looks a maiden winner waiting to happen. Lovely chaser in the making and is a horse who won’t come into his own until going over fences in a year’s time.
4g Maxios – Enjoy The Life
RPR 135h OR 141h
Gorgeous horse who is two from two over hurdles this season without ever coming off the bridle. Came from Germany with decent Flat form but a gelding operation knocked him back quite a long way and I was always slightly on the back foot with him in the spring. We threw him in at the deep end, running him in the Adonis, then the Triumph, and he was far from disgraced in either. We had his breathing done in the summer and he has come back a different horse entirely. Is ready to step up in grade now and could reappear at Cheltenham this weekend if we wanted to, but the two races I have in mind are the Kennel Gate at Ascot next month, then the Grade 1 Tolworth, although I should stress nothing is set in stone. And then we’d give him a break before Cheltenham.
5m Lucarno – Oeuvre D’Art
Placed in a couple of bumpers last season and has since had a breathing operation. We should be able to place her to win a mares’ maiden hurdle, hopefully starting at Ludlow on Thursday.
5g Buck’s Boum – Rock Treasure
Martin Broughton & Friends 4
I love this horse and he’s one of the novice hurdlers I’ve been particularly looking forward to. He fell asleep a bit and ran green before quickening up nicely when making a winning hurdling debut at Wincanton; we’ll find another similar event and then look to step him up in grade.
5g Coastal Path – Santa Bamba
Brooks, Kyle & Mason
RPR 134c OR 131c
I’ve always liked him but he was a big, backward baby last season which meant I could never train him as I wanted. I think some of these Coastal Paths need time, so that’s what we’ve given him. He also had a wind op in the summer, since when he has improved physically, so I’m hopeful he’ll win races over fences. Looks to be on a decent mark.
5g Martaline – Sauves La Reine
Bumper winner last season and one I like. He’s not an easy ride as he’s very light-mouthed. He was too keen on his hurdling debut at Wincanton and it’s been a similar story at home with his schooling, so we took him to Exeter for a novice hurdle last week to educate him, by dropping him in and teaching him to settle. He’ll have benefited enormously from that and although he’s very much a chaser of the future there’s now no reason why he shouldn’t win over hurdles.
7g Buck’s Boum – Sangrilla
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 136c OR 131c
One of the lesser lights who has his good days and his moderate ones. He was on a good day when winning a decent handicap chase at Ascot last November and again ran well back there in March but returned a bit jarred up. Back cantering again, he’ll be ready around Christmas when the aim will be to win another handicap chase.
4g Saint Des Saints – Quora Vallis
John & Lisa Hales
RPR 106h OR –
He was bought for John Hales in the spring after showing a lot of promise on his hurdling debut in France when chasing home a Grade 1 bumper winner at Auteuil. He was one of those who ran just an ordinary race first time and his blood wasn’t great after. He’s been a bit keen, and has to settle into our way of doing things, and relax, before he can progress. But he’ll be okay in time.
Flash De Touzaine
4g Kapgarde – Narcisse De Touzaine
Big four-year-old from a good French family who stayed on strongly in his Killarney bumper for Liz Doyle. We bought him in the spring because I love the sire. He’s just had a wind op and won’t be ready to run in a couple more bumpers until around Christmas.
Flic Ou Voyou
5g Kapgarde – Hillflower
Big, strong sort with masses of scope. Won his two bumpers on soft and I always knew he’d make a smooth transition to hurdling as he’s been schooling for the best part of two years. Probably should have won on his jumping debut at Chepstow as he was a bit free and ran a bit green. In hindsight we should possibly have made more use of him at Wincanton on Saturday. He’s crying out for 2m4f.
Friend Or Foe
4g Walk In The Park – Mandchou
Gordon & Su Hall
RPR 112h OR 128h
After he made all at Taunton on his first run for us we tried to protect his handicap mark for the festival but he missed the cut for the Fred Winter by a couple. He went on to disappoint at Newbury when we fitted a tongue-tie but he spat the dummy out and didn’t enjoy it. He had a breathing op over the summer and he should be competitive in handicap hurdles. A big, immature horse last season, he’s got bags of scope.
7g Nickname – Miss Country
RPR 177c OR 169c
What an amazing little horse he is! He had a breathing operation 15 months ago and the improvement he’s gone on to show has been remarkable, winning all those big races. We started off again in the Old Roan, where obviously he wasn’t suited by having all those fences taken out. Aintree was always meant to be a prep for the Betfair Chase, a race I think is made for him. A tight 3m round Haydock, which is a flat track, should be perfect. Then he’ll have an entry for the King George and, come the spring, an entry for the Gold Cup too. That said, I suspect we might end up trying to win another Ryanair. He and Bryony [Frost] get on so well together and I’ve no doubt he’ll be giving his all again right through the season.
6g Getaway – Acinorev
Owners Group 023
RPR 142c OR 155c
I hope he’s going to be a really smart novice chaser. He didn’t come back in until mid-August – a month later than the others – and he wasn’t quite ready when making his chasing debut at Cheltenham at the end of last month. But if he was going to run in Sunday’s Arkle Trial at Cheltenham I had to get a run into him somewhere, and he travelled and jumped beautifully before getting a bit tired and finishing third to Al Dancer. There’s an enormous amount of improvement to come and we’ll be quite happy to take on the winner again. To think the season before last we couldn’t even win a bumper with him. He was a bit free and lit up early in his carer but once he settled he just took off and has kept on improving. It wasn’t easy deciding whether to stick to hurdles or go chasing, but he’s always been a chaser on looks and he’s obviously a really exciting prospect.
Give Me A Copper
9g Presenting – Copper Supreme
Done, Ferguson, Kyle, Mason, Nicholls & Wood
RPR 152c OR 142c
He’s not easy to train but I knew if I could get him back there was a big race in him and it all came right on Saturday in the Badger Beers, where I thought he’d go well but might just need it. We didn’t see the best of him last season. Having showed at Sandown first time that he retains his ability, things didn’t go right after. He probably wants a flat track and, being a bit fragile, we don’t want to be running him too often; a month between races is okay so we might look at the Becher Chase, but down the line the National would be his big aim.
4g Flemensfirth – Gleaming Spire
He’s a brother to the decent 2m4f chaser Knockgraffon. Showed us plenty in his work in the spring and has again been catching the eye this autumn; everyone who rides him likes him, so on the face of it he was a bit disappointing when we ran him in the bumper at the first Chepstow meeting. I’d been due to take him to Salisbury for a racecourse gallop but they abandoned the meeting and he just needed the run. He’s a beautiful traveller and is going to be a serious horse in time.
5g Gold Well – Five Star Present
Mr & Mrs Paul Barber, Ged Mason & Sir Alex Ferguson
Comes from a good Irish family and is a really likeable individual. Quite green in both his bumpers last season, he did well physically over the summer and made his hurdling debut at Chepstow last Wednesday. He’ll improve for the run and should win novice hurdles when stamina is at a premium.‘
5g Diamond Boy – La Courtille
Martin Broughton Racing Partners
RPR 155h OR 152h
I was thrilled with him at Wincanton on Saturday; they think a lot of Nicky Henderson’s horse [Fusil Raffles] although I suppose he might have needed it. If ours had just jumped the second-last it might have been very interesting. He’s another good advert for a summer breathing operation; having got his wind sorted a year ago his form improved massively. It was a good bit of placing by the team to win the Kingwell Hurdle, but I’ve never seen him developing into a Champion Hurdle contender. We’ve now got some thinking to do – do we stay over hurdles or go chasing? There’s no rush to decide.
5g Great Pretender – Manson Teene
RPR 134h OR 132h
One of a couple who ran really disappointingly at the first Chepstow meeting; we never got to the bottom of it and found out why. Has always had plenty of ability although hasn’t been the luckiest from an injury point of view. Had a little setback after winning at Fontwell in January, bringing his season to a premature end. Goes novice chasing now and should be competitive in his own grade round the smaller tracks.
6g Subtle Power – Laughing Sparkle
RPR 133h OR 131h
He won twice over 2m4f for Lucinda Russell on heavy ground last winter – I understand he cut his leg on his last run but he’s fine now. Strangely for a horse who has won over hurdles his schooling has been fairly ordinary until recently. Seems a decent prospect for staying handicap hurdles on soft ground and we’re going for the £100,000 Brush Hurdle at Haydock on Saturday week.
Hugo’s Other Horse
5g Gold Well – Wicked Crack
Cue Card’s half-brother looks a decent sort for staying novice hurdles. I didn’t see him as an ideal type for bumpers, but he showed a lot of improvement from his first run to his second when winning at Fontwell. Andy Stewart is over for Cheltenham this weekend so he’ll run in the Listed bumper there on Sunday and then go over hurdles.
If You Say Run
7m Mahler – De Lissa
Highclere Thoroughbred Racing
RPR 137c 142h OR 140c 140h
Despite her showing good form last season she had ongoing wind issues so we had her palate re-cauterised in the summer. After she made the perfect start to her chasing career in a mares’ novice at Worcester, I decided to use her allowance against the geldings in the Rising Stars at Wincanton on Saturday. She had a tough task and I knew she had to improve so she probably ran as I expected. We can go back to mares’ events and she’s sure to win plenty more races.
4g Jeremy – Toulon Pass
Lovely stamp of a horse – you look at him and think he’s our future here. He was unlucky in his only point-to-point, as he would have been first or second but for being virtually brought down at the last. Has done plenty of work and I like what I see, so he’ll be ready to start off in a bumper in around a week or so.
6g Kapgarde – Angesse
RPR 146c OR 141c
Lovely individual, one of my favourites. He’s been green and backward and I’ve had to be patient with him, but he’s getting stronger as he gets older and he definitely has a future in staying chases. I’ve no doubt we have yet to see the best of him and he should win a nice staying handicap chase on soft ground. He’s had loads of work, including a racecourse gallop at the weekend, and following another one somewhere should just about be ready, so the plan is to run in the Ladbrokes Trophy first time out; he looks on a fair mark and I see him as a lively outsider for Newbury on November 30.
5g Saint Des Saints – Magic Poline
Mr & Mrs John Cotton
RPR 152c OR 148c
On the back of an impressive Wincanton win we fancied him for the Grand Annual, but not for the first time he disappointed. He’d been troubled by his breathing so we got that operated on in the summer and I hope there’s a lot more to come from him, especially when he learns to relax more. Has age on his side and could be suited by stepping up in trip. Hasn’t been easy to get fit but, following a racecourse gallop over the weekend, is getting there now and could reappear on Saturday in the BetVictor Gold Cup.
7g Martaline – Noche
Brooks, Fulton & Vogt
RPR 130h OR 126h
Was a bit unlucky not to have won a handicap hurdle at Sandown in March where he probably hit the front too soon. After we tweaked his wind again in the summer he goes for novice chases on soft ground round the likes of Fontwell and Plumpton.
5m Martaline – Clarte D’Or
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 124c OR 142c
She was hard to train for much of last season as she’d had an infection in a hind leg and it kept on troubling her, but she came good in the spring and won the Imperial Cup. Although she had a couple of tired falls over hurdles I think she’ll give fences more respect, but she jumped a bit novicey on her chasing debut at Market Rasen and returned with a nasty cut. She’s back cantering after ten days on the easy list and we’ll look for a mares’ beginners’ chase somewhere. If it turns out she doesn’t like fences we can always go back hurdling.
8g Kayf Tara – No Need For Alarm
RPR 143h OR 143h
One of my favourites. He was very unlucky when suffering a tiny knee fracture when falling on his Chepstow chasing debut last season. Everything has gone well since his return and he’s been schooling away fine, so following a racecourse gallop at Wincanton at the weekend he’s just about ready to start. We’ll go back novice chasing, starting somewhere small and then hopefully creep up. Despite his obvious lack of experience he possesses a huge amount of ability.
5g Milan – Rossavon
A half-brother to Waiting Patiently, he has looked a high-class prospect from day one and had a fantastic season in bumpers, when his victories included the Grade 2 at Aintree. He’d come back with sore shins after failing to come down the hill at Cheltenham earlier on. It’s been a struggle getting the weight off this autumn and he’s been a bit behind the others fitness-wise, so I’d expect him to come on enormously for his run at Chepstow last week. He didn’t hurdle fluently and will have to improve his jumping in order to progress. Although we started off at 2m we’ll step up to 2m4f next time.
3g Meshaheer – Mick Oceane
RPR 131h OR –
Potentially exciting recent arrival from France. Looked impressive when making a winning debut at Auteuil in May and I was delighted to see the runner-up went on to win their three-year-old Grade 1 Champion Hurdle the Saturday before last, so his form is really good. We all like him and he’s done everything right so far; the only fault I can find is he’s been a bit keen at home, so he’ll have to settle when he races. Lets’s see what he can do at Cheltenham on Saturday in the juvenile hurdle.
4f Camelot – Great Artist
Owners Group 034
RPR 118h OR 127h
The ground was too quick when she was pulled up on her final run last season, after which she was found to be in season. She’s a good fun horse for minor handicap hurdles, when she should be suited by a flat track and soft ground.
Mont Des Avaloirs
6g Blue Bresil – Abu Dhabi
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 140c OR 142c
I had high hopes for him over fences last season but he didn’t jump well on his debut and was then largely disappointing when reverting to hurdles. He’s a big horse who has needed time, so we gave him a nice long break over the summer. And he’s had a breathing op, which will hopefully help him now he tries novice chasing again. I can see him leaving last season’s form behind.
5g Martaline – Royale Majesty
McNeill family & Chris Giles
RPR 141c OR 127c
Considering what he’d done in France I had high hopes when he came here a year ago but it didn’t happen for him over hurdles. We had his wind done over the summer and that’s going to make a big difference judged by what I saw at Plumpton, where he jumped really well back over fences before taking a crashing fall at the last. He was sore for a few days but is back in good form and I’m sure there are races to be won with him over fences. He did well over them in France.
Nimix De Juilley
5g Al Namix – Halbina De Juilley
He was bought for JP a year ago but has only recently joined us. Made a winning debut over hurdles at Strasbourg in France last autumn, but our handicappers won’t give him a mark yet. At least he can go for one of those races open to winners of a single race. I’m a bit in the dark about him for now.
8g Notnowcato – Dolma
Brooks family & Jeremy Kyle
RPR 159h OR 152h
He got a bit jarred up in the spring, the first time in his life he’s had an issue of any kind, so he’s not been out since February. Came in a bit later than the others but is getting there now and may return in the Coral Ascot Hurdle, in which he finished second last year. What an amazing servant he’s been! In 34 runs for us he’s been out of the money only six times. I know he didn’t win last season but he put up any number of good placed efforts in Graded company. I could be temped to try him over fences again in a graduation chase at some stage.
4g Kamsin – Dramraire Mist
Middleham Park Racing XII & A & J Ryan
RPR 117c OR 126c
After his Wincanton win I probably ran him again a bit too quick when he burst a blood vessel at Kempton next time. We’ve learned he needs more time between his races, needs to be kept fresh and to be running round the smaller tracks.
8g Westerner – Love Train
RPR 133c OR 128c
Operates around the smaller tracks over fences and loves fast ground; I’d been hoping to get him out earlier but it’s been too wet. Reappears in a 3m handicap chase at Taunton on Thursday and he’d make a good hunter chaser if anyone’s interested in buying him.
4g Turgeon – Rose Candy
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 138h OR 146h
I’m really excited about this horse and I think the world of him. He just got a bit tired when fading in the Triumph on his one and only run for us; it’s not easy for these French horses who cross the channel mid-season. He was one of the best juveniles in France before he came to us, so on the back of two racecourse gallops we took him back to Auteuil yesterday for their Grade 1 four-year-olds Champion Hurdle, the Prix Renaud Vivier and thankfully he is fine after his fall.
8g Poliglote – Scarlet Row
John & Lisa Hales
RPR 173c OR 166c
He’s in the best form I’ve ever had him at this stage of the season. He looks, and is working, great. Considering he hadn’t always run up to his best at Cheltenham in the past I was so proud of his effort when chasing home Altior in the Champion Chase. We gave him a wind op over the summer, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and after he didn’t get home over 3m in the King George last season we’re happy to stick to 2m this winter. I can’t wait to see him come back in the Shloer Chase on Sunday, then we’ll go on to the Tingle Creek – a race he won two years ago, the Desert Orchid, the Clarence House, then have him fresh for the festival. If Altior stays up in distance and Willie Mullins goes elsewhere with his latest superstar [Chacun Pour Soi], I hope we can end up running another big race in the Champion Chase.
6m Stowaway – Moscow Demon
Highclere Thoroughbred Racing
RPR 135c OR 142c
Really smart, tough mare and just looking at her – she’s so big and strong she could be a gelding – I’ve been excited for a long time to see what she can do over fences. I don’t think she got the credit she deserved for a blinding run on her debut behind two smart horses, Jarveys Plate and Reserve Tank, at Chepstow. She’s sharper for the run and sure to win races, hopefully starting at Bangor on Wednesday in a 2m1f mares’ Listed novice chase. At some stage I wouldn’t be frightened to use her 7lb allowance against the geldings as she’s high class, without a doubt.
9g Presenting – Glen’s Gale
Mr & Mrs Mark Woodhouse
RPR 155c OR 148c
From the day he came back in our number one aim was to get him to Wincanton on Saturday ready to run the race of his life and try to land the Badger Beers Chase for the third year on the trot – plenty have done the double but no horse has won it there times – but when the rain came I knew it wasn’t to be. It ended up quite testing and that isn’t his ground at all. We could now look at the Becher Chase again but the ground will have to be suitable, and Doncaster is a track we’ll look to target over the winter. The middle part the season can a bit of an anti-climax as he doesn’t operate as well on winter soft ground.
4g Muhtathir – High Destiny
Martin Broughton & Friends
RPR 148h OR 149h
Super tough four-year-old who has now won six of his eight hurdle starts for us. Got slightly injured in the Triumph Hurdle and came back a bit sore, but it was nothing serious. It can be a tough old season for second-season juvenile hurdlers, but after a pipeopener on the Flat he came out and won again at Cheltenham, where the heavy ground was ideal. We thought about bringing him out again in the Elite Hurdle, but we’ll give him a bit more time and the idea is to go either for the Greatwood on Sunday if the ground is testing or step him up in trip in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot later this month. Later on, one race I think would be made for him is the National Spirit at Fontwell in February.
Red Force One
4g Lethal Force – Dusty Red
Done Ferguson Mason
RPR 129h OR 129h
What a massive improver! He started the season a maiden over hurdles – albeit a good one having finished fourth in the Adonis – and already he’s shaping into a smart handicapper. He can always go back to novice hurdles, but he’s obviously one for some of the big handicaps after his run in the Listed handicap at Ascot, where he would have won in another stride. He’s in the Greatwood, and although that might come too soon I must admit 10st 1lb does look very attractive. Later on a suitable target might be the very valuable handicap hurdle back at Ascot just before Christmas.
4g No Risk At All – Rolie De Vindecy
Middleham Park Racing
RPR 114c OR –
Hasn’t long arrived in Ditcheat. He was bought shortly after winning his second start over fences in France at Auteuil in September. Obviously I don’t know too much about him yet.
Rhythm Is A Dancer
6g Norse Dancer – Fascinatin Rhythm
RPR 116c OR 127c
Won three over hurdles last season despite struggling with his breathing, so we’ve had that seen to over the summer and he’s a good fun horse to go chasing with. Always needs a run or two and finished a bit tired at Fakenham on his debut, but is capable of winning races over fences at his own level.
Romain De Senam
7g Saint Des Saints – Salvatrixe
Dan MacDonald & Chris Giles
RPR 154c OR 148c
Has been on an extended summer break and will be prepared for a spring campaign, when he’ll be trained for the Grand National. He’s best on a flat track and likes decent ground, so the National could really suit him. Before Aintree he could take in what used to be the Racing Post Chase at Kempton in February.
7g Saint Des Saints – Princesse Lucie
David Maxwell Racing
RPR 139c OR 150c
Useful handicap chaser in France, successful twice over fences there. He’s a maiden over hurdles so he’ll go novice hurdling at around 3m for owner/champion amateur David Maxwell.
10g Saint Des Saints – Loya Lescribaa
Mr & Mrs John Cotton
RPR 153c OR 141c
He’s classy but fragile and has had no luck with injuries in recent seasons. We were trying to get him ready for Wetherby over Charlie Hall weekend but he wasn’t ready, so the Grand Sefton at Aintree next month is now a possibility. He hasn’t won for over three years but has a very good record first time out.
8g Layman – Cinco Baidy
RPR 164c OR 152c
Has struggled with his breathing from day one and for that reason is a bit in-and-out. Geoff Lane, who carries out our breathing procedures, says he must be a really good horse to have won as many races as he has. Ran with a bit too much enthusiasm when dropping out on his return at Market Rasen last month and goes next for a 2m6f handicap at Newbury on Ladbrokes Trophy day. Not at his best on winter ground, he’s more of a spring horse and showed he’s still capable when winning the Greatwood Gold Cup in March. Loves decent ground and a flat track, although he spends much of his life in the grip of the handicapper nowadays.
5g Great Pretender – Miss Country
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 110c OR 124c
Frodon’s half-brother used to be a hard-puller at home like Cyrname was. He’s had another wind op and judged by what I saw on his chasing debut at Kempton he is well capable of winning a novice handicap off his mark. Bearing in mind his breathing issues he may prefer a flat track.
4g Mastercraftsman – Herboriste
RPR 129h OR 132h
Looked on a winnable handicap mark so we took him for the good four-year-old hurdle at Chepstow in October but he found the ground too soft and I admit he was disappointing. Put a line through that run, his blood wasn’t 100 per cent afterwards, but he’s come right now. Will be out again soon and will want better ground.
7g Kayf Tara – Silver Charmer
Hills Of Ledbury
RPR 155c OR 150c
Ran very well on his comeback at Down Royal when the soft ground went against him. He’s a hard horse to get right first time, so he’ll come on an enormous amount for the run. Last season he took a couple of outings before he clicked over fences; he’s a big horse who loves going long into a fence, although he wasn’t so clever when asked to go short. But he came good in the spring, helped by a change of tactics when we rode him more positively, and he was particularly impressive at Ayr. Where we go next I don’t know; he’ll be entered for the big handicaps and Grade 2s.
6g Scorpion – Dato Vic
One of two sent to me by Jared Sullivan, so it’s nice to have him back on board. He won an Irish point in early 2017 and was with Willie Mullins last year when suffering a cracked pelvis. He schooled nicely last week, when we must have jumped the best part of 50 horses, and is about a fortnight off a run.
5m Jeremy – Silver Prayer
RPR 134h OR –
Smashing mare. We’re taking the Posh Trish route with her, so she started in the same mares’ novice hurdle at Chepstow we won last year with Posh and she won as she liked. Then it was on to Newbury last week when she just held on from a nice filly of Nicky Henderson’s [Floressa]. Over 2m she found the ground plenty quick enough, and if it’s softer and the pair meet again back at Newbury at the end of month she’s got a good chance of confirming the form on worse terms. Hopefully she can end up in the Listed mares’ novice at the Festival.
3g Zoffany – Open Book
Martin Broughton & Friends
RPR 104h OR 117h
Athletic type who had showed a lot of promise in his only run on the Flat this year in a Leopardstown maiden in the spring. Jumped a bit ordinary first time for us and he needed the run, but cheekpieces woke him up at Wincanton next time and he won comfortably. I need to find a handicap next as he’s been given a very attractive mark; after that we can look for something better.
4g Mastameet – Maid For Auction
Doesn’t have the greatest of pedigrees but is a smashing individual. Won his maiden point at Dromahane impressively and the first three home are all based at Ditcheat now. We bought him at the Doncaster sales and surprisingly he cost less than the horse he beat. He’s done everything asked of him very nicely so I’m looking forward to seeing him shortly in a bumper.
5g Kayf Tara – Chamoss Royale
Patience has been the name of the game as he took forever to come to himself last season, but he repaid us with a nice win at Chepstow. It wasn’t the greatest bumper in the world but what I liked about it was Harry [Cobden] couldn’t pull him up afterwards, and that’s always a good sign. It’s taken the best part of 12 months for us to teach him to jump properly; oddly enough none of the ‘Southfield’ horses we’ve had were natural jumpers to start with. Once he learns to jump, I’ve always thought this one could end up being the best of all of them. Should be ready sometime next month.
6g Fair Mix – Laureldean Belle
Angela Hart & Angela Yeoman
RPR 140c OR 142c
A grand sort for novice chases; he travels, he jumps and has done well physically. Surprised me last winter with the way he kept on improving over hurdles during a busy and productive season. Came back in as fat as anything and it’s taken an enormous amount of work to get him fit. He blew up in his beginners’ chase at Exeter, just as I expected him to, but I guarantee he’ll take a big step forward the next time he runs.
5g Yeats – Ceol Rua
RPR 135h OR 130h
Was backward last season and very much a work in progress. Ran okay on his return and may go for another handicap hurdle before we switch to fences. Should improve as he strengthens up.
Tamaroc Du Mathan
4g Poliglote – Thisbee Du Mathan
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
Was proving a handful on the gallops before a small tendon injury ruled him out of last season. We’re obviously a bit in the dark about him and he’ll have to resume hurdling on the back of limited experience. They won’t give him a handicap mark based on his one run, at Angers in western France 18 months ago, but he can go for one of those winners-of-one races. He’ll want soft ground.
4g Sir Percy – Feis Ceoil
Mile handicapper on the Flat for Henry Candy who’s been here about six weeks. We gave him a little break and he’s just started jumping. Not the biggest in the world and he reminds me of Desert Quest, who did so well for us. We’ll start somewhere small over hurdles and then hopefully build up.
4g Shantou – Didinas
Lovely big baby, one of a number of beautiful youngsters we have coming through, who was bought at the Land Rover sale. Has done everything we have asked of him and ran well at Fontwell, when bumping into a good one.
3g Anodin – Jane
Promising juvenile. He won over almost 1m2f at Bordeaux as a two-year-old before he was out of his depth in a Derby trial at Longchamp last spring. About a week off a run, he just needs to sharpen up his jumping and he’ll be ready to go.
8g Presenting – Bay Pearl
RPR 143c OR 139c
Was in decent form last season before we were a bit too ambitious with him in the spring. Back at the right level he should be okay in handicap chases and he was winning first time out for the season season in a row when successful at Fakenham last month. The key is to keep him fresh and we might go to Aintree next month for the Grand Sefton as he’s such a good jumper.
6g Oscar – Present Venture
RPR 129h OR 127h
I’ve been scratching my head over this one. I honestly thought he’d run a tidy race in the Persian War, but he hung left in the straight and virtually pulled himself up. We tested everything but nothing came to light, so it’s still a mystery why he ran like that. I know there’s big engine in there.
7g Westerner – Galeacord
Gordon & Su Hall
RPR 140c OR 140c
Tough and genuine stayer who did nothing but improve for us over hurdles last season and is now doing the same over fences. He’ll stay all day and loves the mud, and for a long while now I’ve had a plan in the back of my mind to aim him at the Welsh National. I had to get three runs over fences into him to qualify: inexperience caught him out on his first run, he needed the second one and won really nicely the last time. I’m quite excited about him because Chepstow over Christmas looks absolutely ideal. He’s now won three times round there.
10g Midnight Legend – Samandara
RPR 154c OR 150c
At the start of the season he threw a reactive splint, which is amazing for a horse of his age. So we’ll ready him for a spring campaign, when I’m sure Aintree will feature on the agenda.
4g Maxios – Willfahrte
Owners Group 036
Highly tried on the Flat in Germany – he was out the back in their 2,000 Guineas last year – and got off the mark over 1m2f once his sights were lowered. We like what we see and he starts over hurdles at Taunton on Thursday.
6g Beneficial – Muckle Flugga
RPR 128c OR 128c
Always a nightmare to get fit – he’s a member of the ‘fat boys club’ and they went out twice a day at the start of the season to help get the condition off. He was still almost embarrassingly big when making his reappearance at Worcester but there’s only so much you can do at home. In the end you have to run them. We can expect significant improvement on his next run; 3m on heavy will suit him over fences.
9g Nickname – Cadiane
Hills Of Ledbury
RPR 162c OR 155c
Recently joined us from Venetia Williams who has done a brilliant job with him; we’ll do well to improve on what she’s achieved. We soon discovered he was making a noise cantering up our hill so he’s recently had a wind op. If that improves him a few pounds like an op has to some of the others, he could be very interesting. He seems to relish a real stamina test on soft ground, so the Welsh National – in which he finished third last year – is his first big target, after a prep somewhere.
5g Yeats – Pepsi Starlet
Quite impressive when winning his maiden Irish point-to-point, he was was lean and light when he arrived in the spring but has done well since. We’re skipping bumpers as they wouldn’t provide a sufficient stamina test; he’s a real staying type who is going to be very well suited by 3m on testing ground. He’s a mirror image of Truckers Lodge, who is doing so well for us as a stayer, this time last year.
5g Martaline – Temptation
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 111h OR –
Has needed lots of time, so we’ve minded him, and although he ran an excellent race behind the smart Emitom at Ascot last season, he was never really a bumper horse so we left off him. Sure to repay us for all the time we’ve allowed him and shaped with promise over nearly 2m6f at Wincanton on his hurdling debut last month. Wants further and softer ground, and as that was his first run for nearly a year he’ll come on a lot for it.
Two for the Tracker
“Getaway Trump ran such a promising first race over fences considering how hard a horse he’s been to get fit, and the novice hurdler Enrilo is another who I expect to improve and improve as the season progresses.”
Race in focus
“To win the Welsh National you want a horse who jumps, stays all day and acts in the mud. Truckers Lodge only got off the mark over fences a fortnight ago but I have long held the view he has all the attributes needed for the Chepstow race over Christmas.”
Twelve months ago the narrative was that the 2018-19 season was going to be a rebuilding one for Paul Nicholls, but how wrong could we all have been.
Nicholls secured another trainers’ title, won the King George, the RSA and Ryanair, numerous big handicaps and had the had the highest rated horse in training at Ditcheat too.
Obviously the key horses this season will be Clan Des Obeaux, Cyrname and Frodon, and they are still amazingly only seven-year-olds, so there must be every chance they can improve again.
What their careers show is that there can be some bumps in the road for these top horses before they make it to the summit and there are any number of horses at Ditcheat who could be the next superstar on the Nicholls conveyor belt.
The obvious one is Getaway Trump, who improved out of all recognition last season and jumped brilliantly on his chase debut at Cheltenham recently. I will be staggered if he isn’t one of the favourites for the Arkle come March.
Then there is Kapcorse, who looked a horse of great potential when hacking up at Newbury last season and has the Ladbrokes Trophy on his radar.
Truckers Lodge is being teed up for a crack at the Welsh National at his beloved Chepstow. Once again it’s worth noting how young these two horses are.
Magic Saint is much better than he showed last year and will win a big handicap this year and there is loads more to come from the Badger Ales winner Give Me A Copper too. One for the Grand National maybe?
Of the more unexposed horses, you can’t help but get the feeling that the two young horses who have Nicholls really purring are Pic D’Orhy and Mick Pastor.
Both have top-class form in France and they could easily be the next Cyrname, Clan Des Obeaux or Frodon, although there are many others I could have picked out such as Ecco, Enrillo or last season’s Imperial Cup winner Malaya.
It would be remiss not to mention the top-class Politologue, or new recruit Yala Enki, who have both had wind operations, but final word goes to not a horse but a jockey.
Everyone knows it’s not easy riding for a man with the competitiveness of Nicholls and there will never be another Ruby Walsh, but Harry Cobden is doing a damn good impression and his importance to the yard should never be underestimated.