The form of Paul Nicholls’ yard has been electric in 2020. Since April, he’s had 78 winners from 275 runners. That equates to a remarkable 28% strike-rate and a level stakes profit of £18.07, so listening to Nicholls’ assessment of his horses is vital. You’ll find plenty of his runners in our horse racing tips, but Racing Post have given us exclusive insight into Nicholls’ string thanks to their stable tour.
This is an excerpt from the Racing Post, normally available exclusively to Members’ Club Ultimate subscribers. Every season the Racing Post takes an inside look at the stables run by the biggest trainers in the industry, giving members the lowdown on all their best prospects. You can check out all the other stable tours and much more – including best bets for the next day’s racing every evening from 6pm from the likes of Pricewise and Paul Kealy – by taking advantage of this free trial offer for Members’ Club.
You never know if the sort of fall he suffered at Ascot will leave a mark, but his schooling was great and we couldn’t have been more pleased with him at Wetherby. To see him win on the bridle was very rewarding. Funnily enough, although he’s looked like a quick horse, he isn’t really that fast and at home all he’s ever done is suggest he wants a trip. In his Ascot wins he’s stayed on strongly at the finish, so I felt sure he’d stay three miles, but until we saw him do it we couldn’t be sure. The left-handed thing was just something in his head when he was a young lunatic.
He’ll now go to Kempton, where he wasn’t at his best last year, perhaps partly because of the hard race he had at Ascot and partly because he just wasn’t right. After the King George I suspect we’ll train him for the Gold Cup. For that race you need a horse who can travel and doesn’t mind going up and down hills. He won’t be flat out around Cheltenham and he should be able to fill his lungs running down the hill – just like Kauto used to do – before coming up the straight.
Kempton’s flat track will play to his strengths and I’m looking forward to running him in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, which will be his next run. He didn’t have too many outings over hurdles, but he did well, and he’s really taken to jumping fences. He’s going to continue making physical improvement and could certainly be a horse for what used to be the RSA Chase, but it’s worth stressing not every good horse has to go to Cheltenham.
I truthfully didn’t expect such a wonderful performance at Cheltenham in October but he just loves that track and is so game. You can be sure he’ll be heading towards the Gold Cup. I’m not shouting out that I think he’ll win the Gold Cup but I do think he’ll run a solid race and I could easily see him being in the frame. He gets into a rhythm around Cheltenham, which Clan Des Obeaux and before him Silviniaco Conti were never able to do.
His next race will be the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree but he could also go to the King George, which I’m sure Paul Vogt would love to see. Once we get past Christmas we’ll work back from the Gold Cup and maybe look at the Cotswold Chase along the way.
He does everything so well at home and ended up winning the Haldon Gold Cup nicely, even though I thought he might be in trouble two out. He’ll improve for that and now goes for the Tingle Creek. Unlike some in the 2m chase division, he’s come through the handicap ranks, but he could keep progressing. I have a feeling he’ll run a massive race at Sandown because he’s a real staying two-miler and the faster they go the better it is for him.
We gave him lots of time after he came over from France and expected him to go very well on his chasing debut at Ffos Las, even though it looked a very good race. I was a bit nervous because he’d run only three times over hurdles at Pau and lacked experience, but aside from galloping into the second-last he jumped beautifully.
I believe he’s a very nice horse and I’m thinking now of going for the Henry VIII at Sandown. He’s still only four and I don’t want to give him too hard a season, so he’d need to be one of the favourites for the Arkle for me to think about running him in it.
After he disappointed in the Tingle Creek last season we changed his routine. I said to John [Hales] I didn’t want to run him before Cheltenham, where I’d have him absolutely right. That’s what we did and we’re training him the same way for this season’s Tingle Creek, after which we’ll go straight to Cheltenham.
The Champion Chase did fall into his lap a bit but you’ll never see a horse jump around Cheltenham better than he did. The plan is for Harry Skelton to stay on him at Sandown, where Harry Cobden will ride Greaneteen.
Each trainer is asked to give members two horses to put in their tracker and follow through the season. One of Nicholls’ picks, Bravemansgame, won at Newbury on Friday. The other is Threeunderthrufive:
A lovely horse. He went through our bumper system last season and is now novice hurdling, following up his Lingfield win at Ludlow, where he had to make the running, which wasn’t ideal as he’s still quite green. I don’t think he wants the ground too deep. He’s a smart 3m chaser in the making.