We got a nice look into the chances of all the Paul Nicholls horses in the build up to the Cheltenham Festival last night as he did a Q&A session on Twitter via Betfair Racing. People got the opportunity to ask the Champion trainer a question and he answered as many as he could. OK, Paul may not have any superstars in his yard at the moment. Long gone are the days of Kauto Star but he is still the best trainer in the UK and deserves a lot of respect in the handicaps at Cheltenham in two week’s time. Let’s have a look at what he said about his horses last night in alphabetical order, enjoy!
Adrien Du Pont
Q – Is the plan to go over fences next year with Adrien Du Pont?
A – Yes.
Q – What are the plans for Alcala, and is he likely to take up his Cheltenham entry?
A – I’m hoping he gets balloted out the race at Cheltenham so he can run in the consolation race at Kempton the following Saturday.
Q – Hi Paul, what’s the plan for Art Mauresque? Hope you get decent ground for him.
A – Just waiting for the ground. They’ll be lots of options in the spring. Could go to Cheltenham if ground is good.
As De Mee
Q – Is As De Mee going to Cheltenham or Aintree?
A – Yet to be discussed but I’m very keen on the Topham at Aintree.
Q – Asides from Chameron and Ptit Zig, will any of your other horses go to Auteuil later in the Spring?
A – We’ve got several possibilities at the moment such as Aux Ptits Soins & Zarkandar but it’s a way off yet and no firm decisions.
Q – What’s happened to Baoulet Delaroque this season?
A – Sadly he died last spring.
Best English Novice
Q – If you could train one English novice apart from Altior, who would it be?
A – Neon Wolf.
Q – Are you happy with Bouvreuil and will he be heading to the Plate?
A – Yes I’m happy with him. He’s not the easiest to get ready but he’s in good form at the moment.
Chois Des Armes
Q – Any news on Choix Des Armes who is in Kauto’s old box?
A – He’s big and backward and has been put away until next season now.
Q – Any plans for Brelan D’as at the festival? Impressive last time.
A – He’s had a minor injury and will be back next season.
Q – What’s your assessment of Brio Conti chances at the festival? Think he has a massive chance!
A – I really hope he gets in the Martin Pipe as I think he’ll go very well.
Caid Du Berlais
Q – Which race will Caid Du Berlais run in at the festival?
A – Good question. We’re very much dependent on the ground. If it’s soft, the Byrne Group Plate is more likely. If better ground, the Ultima.
Q – Paul and news on when we might see Capeland again?
A – Yes he’ll be ready to run again in two to three weeks. Just wants better ground.
Q – Any reason for Capitaine disappointing at Kempton and is he likely to take up his Supreme entry?
A – Just ran too free at Kempton and he’s unlikely to go to Cheltenham. Needs fences.
Cap St Vincent
Q – How’s Cap St Vincent and will he be seen this year?
A – Will hopefully run in a bumper in April.
Q – Paul will you have any runner in the bumper this year?
A – No.
Q – Which Champion Hurdle contender would you most like to train?
A – Petit Mouchoir.
Q – One horse yet to run this year that could be smart?
A – Chameron.
Clan Des Obeaux
Q – Is there any plan for Clan Des Obeaux just yet?
A – One small novice chase and then possibly Ayr.
Q – Paul how do you think Coillte Lass will do in the Mares Novice?
A – She ran very well behind Vroum Vroum Mag last time and I’m sure she’ll run a good race.
Copain De Classe & Antol
Q – How’s Copain De Classe and Antol, Paul? Any Festival plans?
A – Anatol won’t be back until next season. Copain is due to run shortly.
Q – What do you do with a horse like Cyrname who seems to possess bags of talent but is running too keen in his races?
A – It’s frustrating but he just needs experience. Switching to fences will hopefully help.
Q – Will Darling Maltaix will be seen soon?
A – He’s a big immature horse who won’t run until next season.
Q – Will Dolos be going the Fred Winter and do you still like him?
A – He’s got a mark of 134 which I think is quite high on what he’s achieved but he’s a very nice horse.
Q – How confident are you that Dreamcatching can overturn Master Blueyes in the Fred Winter?
A – You can put a line through Dreamcatching’s Kempton run. The winner is very smart but looks Triumph bound.
Q – Looking forward to El bandit running at Cheltenham! Will it be the Martin Pipe?
A – No he runs in the Pertemps Final.
Q – Will Far West run at the festival and if so which race?
A – No he won’t. He’s had a minor setback.
Q – Hi Paul. Which of your horses are likely to take part in the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices Hurdle?
A – Dreamcatching and Dolos.
Give Me A Copper
Q – Hi, any plans for Give Me A Copper?
A – One more run in the Spring over hurdles then he’ll be chasing in the Autumn.
Q – If u could only win one race, which would it be and why?
A – I’d love to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup for a fifth time.
Q – Surely you have something to get in the frame for the Gold Cup?
A – Hopefully Saphir De Rheu!
Q – I know the weights aren’t out yet but what are your best couple of chances at the moment in handicaps?
A – Will need to look at the weights as you say but I think Brio Conti if he gets in the Martin Pipe & Dodging Bullets will go well in the Grand Annual.
Q – Who do you think is your best handicapped horse going to Cheltenham?
A – Caid Du Berlais is becoming very well handicapped on the pick of his form.
Ibis Du Rheu
Q – Where are you leaning towards for Ibis Du Rheu? Does it depend on the handicapper tomorrow?
A – I want to have a look at all the races but I’m keen on the Ultima Handicap Chase on the opening day as things stand.
Irish Grand National
Q – Will you enter anything for the Irish National?
A – Yes Saphir De Rheu and Le Mercurey.
Q – Where does Irish Saint go at Cheltenham?
A – He won’t run at Cheltenham. He’s not quite in top form at the moment.
Q – Will Lac Fontana turn up anywhere?
A – Almost certain to run in the Martin Pipe at the Festival.
Q – Is Le Prezien a definite for the Arkle?
A – No he’s got several options including the Grand Annual.
Q – Will Marracudja be heading to Cheltenham?
A – Yes but for the April meeting.
Q – Surely Modus is still on a good mark and must have a great chance in the Coral Cup?
A – I think 156 is a stiff mark but we’ll find out in due course.
Q – I really like Movewiththetimes for the Supreme Novices. How does he compare with Al Ferof?
A – So do I. He’s absolutely on a par with Al Ferof and Noland.
Q – Who will ride Movewiththetimes now that Barry is injured & Sam is on Ballyandy?
A – Who says Sam is riding Ballyandy in the Supreme? No definite riding plans in place at this stage.
Q – Which race are you leaning towards for Movewiththetimes, looks a Neptune horse, but is that a hot race?
A – He’s in three or four races. It’s yet to be finally decided but slightly favouring the Supreme.
NAP of the Festival
Q – If you were to have a bet, what would be your NAP of the festival?
A – Native River in the Gold Cup.
Q – Paul have you bought any new horses lately that you’re excited about?
A – Chameron is a nice type. He’s a chaser for next season.
Q – Have you managed to persuade the owner to run Old Guard in the Coral yet?
A – I’d be very hopeful that’s where he runs.
One More Hero
Q – Best of luck for Cheltenham, One More Hero is a lot better than what he showed on debut isn’t he?
A – I hope so!
Q – Who would you rather go for a pint with? Willie Mullins or Henderson?
A – Willie because I don’t think Nicky drinks pints.
Q – What do you think your best chance at Festival is? I really like Politologue in JLT!
A – I’d agree as would Sam on Politologue. I don’t know what our best chance is but he’d be up there for sure.
Q – If I had a spare pony earmarked for Politologue would I be best taking 8’s for the JLT or 16’s for the King George?
A – Both.
Q – Paul does Rocky Creek run in the Cross Country Chase?
A – He’s got an entry but no final plan made yet.
Romain De Senam
Q – Any headgear planned for Romain De Senam in the Novices Handicap Chase?
A – No he doesn’t need it.
Q – Paul do you have anything for the RSA this year?
A – Two possibles. As De Mee or Ibis De Rheu but they do have other options.
Q – Paul when will Secret Investor run again? Looked good on debut.
A – He’s a big backward horse who won’t run again until next season but one we’re looking forward to and very smart.
Q – Where does Southfield Theatre run at the festival?
A – He doesn’t. He’s being aimed at the Whitbread at the end of the season at Sandown.
Q – Do you think Silviniaco Conti could benefit from a step down to 2m 5f? Is that an avenue you might explore this season or next?
A – No he showed in the King George that he really wants a trip and you’ll likely next see him in the Bowl at Aintree.
Q – Topofthegame looks full of potential. Certainly make a chaser. Any plans for Cheltenham or will he head to Aintree?
A – One more run then he’ll go chasing. Will run in a small race with a penalty then we’ll mind him until he goes chasing.
Q – What’s happening with Unioniste? I hope he is well.
A – Due to run in the Kim Muir with new owner David Maxwell riding him.
Q – Will Biddick chose Ask The Weatherman over Wonderful Charm. How do you assess the 2 horses’ chances?
A – Wonderful Charm has a great chance if it’s decent ground but remember Will’s first commitment is to the Barber yard and had no option.
Q – By how many lengths does Zarkandar win the Stayers?
A – One will do.
Q – What’s the plan with Zubayr?
A – 2 and 1/2 miles and good ground in the spring. Possibly Aintree.
The big four races at Cheltenham Festival are known as the “Championship Races” and we will have tips, previews and trends for all 4! We are now just two weeks from the festival #Excitement
Tuesday – Champion Hurdle
Wednesday – Champion Chase
Thursday – Stayers’ Hurdle
Friday – Cheltenham Gold Cup