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About: Paul Nicholls Racing

Recent Posts by Paul Nicholls Racing

Black Corton continues to surprise

Black Corton and Posh Trish were the headline acts for Team Ditcheat at Cheltenham’s three day meeting with several more of our horses running really well in defeat.

It was good to end the week back on top of the trainers’ table with 60 winners at a decent strike rate of 28 per cent with almost £800,000 in prize money. It means that we are currently on course to meet the targets set by my head lad Clifford Baker and myself at the start of the season.

I admit to being astonished by the improvement shown by Black Corton since he won his first chase at Fontwell back in June.
He just gets better and better and after his latest brilliant success on Saturday, beating two highly rated horses, he will be raised to a mark close to 160 which is higher than Denman in his days as a novice chaser. When Black Corton started over fences I never thought he’d achieve as much as he has but he has forged a great partnership with Bryony Frost and keeps surprising me. She is a very talented and hard working rider who keeps things simple and he jumps for fun, is still improving and looks fabulous for a horse who has been on the go for so long.
I’ve always felt that when a horse is in form and on a roll then there is no point in putting them away. Black Corton has now earned his place in the Kauto Star Novice Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day and can have a break after that before being trained for the RSA at the Festival.

I was thrilled with Posh Trish who justified my faith in her with a decisive victory in the mares’ bumper on Saturday.
There is so much to like about Posh Trish who won her only point-to-point in Ireland and has the size, scope and attitude to do well over hurdles and fences. At this stage I’m not sure whether to keep her to bumpers or switch her to novice hurdles as she has always schooled smartly at home. It’s a nice dilemma to have.

On Friday Movewiththetimes again shaped with great promise over fences in finishing a close second to the highly-rated Finian’s Oscar. There is much more to come from him.

A day later Vicente came tantalisingly close to winning the long distance chase on ground that he has never enjoyed. A little mistake at the last probably cost him the race but he was flying at the finish and would have caught Perfect Candidate in a couple more strides.

Le Prezien was another to shine in finishing third in the BetVictor Gold Cup. A mistake at the first fence rather put him on the back foot but he warmed to the task and was keeping on well at the line. With any luck Le Prezien should be winning a decent prize this winter.
Romain de Senam, who finished tired in fifth, failed to get home in the extremely testing conditions. I will freshen him up and bring him back to Cheltenham next month for the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup which is usually run on much better ground on the New course.

I don’t have too much to send to Haydock next weekend but San Benedeto and Marracudja could run in the valuable handicap chase at Ascot on Saturday and I could also take Dolos and Frodon to Ascot.

For all the up to date news on my runners on Saturday please be sure to check out my regular Betfair column early on Friday evening.

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Manic Monday lifts normal blues

I think it would be fair to say that for even the most die-hard of job lovers Monday morning wouldn’t be their most loved time of the week.

Of course it’s like every other day, but something in the brain of ours tells us Mondays will be more gruelling than the rest of the week. However, I genuinely believe I have struck gold with my new slot of writing my blog first thing on a Monday. Instead of waking up a little tired or in danger of grumbling at the 5:15am alarm call, I wake up looking forward to reporting on the week just past and it’s been a busy one to say the least so without any delay I’ll get straight to it.

It is exactly a week ago now that we headed to Kempton optimistic of a good day with some nice youngsters ready to run, and happily that is how it played out. Brio Conti ensured the day started in the right manner winning his chase debut at Carlisle under a cool Sean Bowen ride, putting in a polished round of jumping and he will without doubt head onto better things.

Sean’s other or better half, depending on which way you look at it, deserves a mention here, Harriet, who in this world only loves one thing more than talking and Sean, and that is Brio Conti. She regularly reminds me what a machine he is and does a great job looking after him every day as he’s not the most robust of animals. In saying that though neither is Brio.

Sir Alex team-talk a time to treasure

With one novice chaser already winning on the day it was the turn of Give Me A Copper at Kempton who, after his slight mishap at Kelso, had a little bit of making up to do. To be fair to him though he didn’t miss a beat last Monday and jumped his sole rival silly winning not remotely extended. At the races on a normal day the equine stars provide the most entertainment and if you listen to them and watch they often provide you with something to learn from however last Monday they had to play second fiddle to a conversation I had with one of Give Me A Copper’s co-owners Sir Alex Ferguson.

After the last race we all headed to where the owners had been lunching for the day and, luckily for me, the only space around the table was next to the great man. What followed was what I can only describe as a twenty minute master-class in all things sporting, where subjects covered ranged from his management style to how to get the best out of a young player, something I questioned him about in great depth hoping that knowledge would enhance the Ditcheat Jockeys Academy. It was only twenty minutes, but it meant the world to me and I will not forget his wise words for an awfully long time.

Remember the ‘name’

Tuesday arrived and happily it was the day that Cyrname finally arrived at the party after being nothing short of disappointing since he made the voyage across the English Channel. Sean has always had a huge amount of belief in this horse though and was adamant that making the running would indeed be the making of him, and how right he was. For all that in every success many people contribute to one horse winning, there are always some that need more help than others and Cyrname is unquestionably one who needs plenty of attention and that attention is provided by Scott Marshall who not only looks after him every day but has the tricky job of riding him.

Scott isn’t one for fanfare or attention, but I really couldn’t reiterate enough just how good a job he has done with this horse. Cyrname is not for the faint hearted at home and riding him does not only require almighty strength, it requires skill, touch, and a bucket load of patience. He jumped superbly at Huntingdon and I was made up for Mr and Mrs de la Hey who have been so patient with him. Cyrname looked a smart horse on Tuesday and everyone in team Ditcheat is incredibly grateful for Scott’s brilliant work with a difficult horse.

In another busy week there have been more excellent performances on the track with our runners continuing their good run of form.
From Ridgeway Flyer making it two out of two over fences at Taunton to Some Man, Secret Investor and Clan Des Obeaux all making excellent seasonal debuts, the latter running a mighty race in defeat to a high class Whisper.

Throw in a brilliant run from Vicente, Movewiththetimes, Le Prezien and Old Guard at Cheltenham over the weekend at Cheltenham and you can see that the yard is in great order, and most satisfying of all thanks to the hard-working team in the yard every day the horses look fantastic when they go racing something I know Paul is incredibly proud of.

Ditcheat double-act dazzle at Cheltenham

In the car on the way racing on Saturday it would be fair to say my mood darkened in symphony with the gathering clouds as we moved closer to Cheltenham. I simply felt that the more rain we had the less chance Ditcheat had of success and I wasn’t overly pleased by that prospect. However, the great thing about this racing game is that every time you think you have got to know a horse they surprise you by doing something you never imagined they could.

In seven blogs this season I have written glowing about Black Corton and remarkably he stepped up again posting without doubt his finest round of jumping to date, while battling through the mud to see off two high class rivals. He barely stands at 16 hands but is all heart and quite simply runs until he has nothing left to give, making him the most wonderful little horse. Bryony and Blackie are now five from five together make a splendid team.

I didn’t expect that victory I must admit, however what I did expect was Posh Trish to put in the performance she did in the last under an intelligent Cobden ride. Rarely have I seen a mare possess the power Trishy does, she is a awesome to watch gallop and the way she rumbled up the hill at Cheltenham in the mud has us all very excited about what the future holds for her. Whatever the future does hold for her we will be sure to look after as she continues to progress.

Loss of Sam tough to take

As you can see then this week has been great, and would have been one of the best if it wasn’t for the news that came out on Monday about our number one rider Sam. I have been lucky enough to become really good friends with Sam over the past few years and a kinder, more generous person you could not meet. He is a really fantastic jockey and I was gutted for him to have to sit out some of the most important part of the season, knowing him like I do however, I am certain whatever he has to do to get back to full fitness he will do, he is a hard worker the like of which is not often matched and I know I speak for everyone in team Ditcheat in wishing him a speedy recovery, and offering him all our full support.

Get well soon my friend.

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Present Man serves up 8th Badger Ales Trophy

A big race double at Wincanton took my score at my local track to 350 winners since I started training in 1991.

We’ve enjoyed so many top days there down the years and the success of Present Man in the Badger Ales Chase was up there with the best of them. Seeing him triumph in the colours of his joint owner Mark Woodhouse, who is the chairman of the race sponsors Hall & Woodhouse, was the culmination of an eighteen month project. I remember ringing him suggesting he buy the horse who had always shown promise despite taking an age to get the hang of things. One day, I suggested, Present Man might improve sufficiently to earn his place in the line up for the Badger Ales Trophy.
Long terms plans in jump racing don’t always come off but I was thrilled for everyone involved that this one did as Present Man became my eighth winner of the race. While I knew he would go in the ground I was worried about him getting the trip as the going turned softer by the minute.
But he looked outstanding in the paddock, travelled and jumped beautifully and was given a brilliant, intelligent ride by Bryony Frost who controlled things in front and kept enough up her sleeve for the finish. I might look at the Ladbroke Trophy Chase (formerly the Hennessy) for him next provided he squeezes into the race with the help of a 5lbs penalty. Further ahead I’m already looking forward to running Present Man in the Grand National. It is the obvious target for him.

I was also pleased with Southfield Theatre keeping on to finish fourth on his first run of the season but I’m afraid Mr Mix had one of his moody days and sulked. I am not convinced he wants the ground so testing.

Earlier Modus had given Team Ditcheat our tenth success in the Grade 2 Rising Stars Chase with a fluent display of jumping. The faster they went the better he jumped. He is one of several smart novices we have for chasing this season. His victory prompted someone to post a tweet asking which were the best two novices we’ve produced from the yard. I was amused by one answer which nominated Dan Skelton and Harry Fry! It wasn’t a bad suggestion considering that Dan enjoyed a double on Saturday while Harry did even better with a treble.

Nor should we forget Tom Jonason who left eighteen months ago after six years as my assistant to pursue a career in commerce. I cannot speak too highly of Tom, a lovely lad who was an integral part of our team for a number of years and had a great attitude. He was never going to train so I am thrilled to hear that he has just been appointed head of business development at Weatherbys Bank after a spell working for Racing FX.

Politologue got our week off to a perfect start on Tuesday with a superb victory in the valuable Haldon Gold Cup from his stable mate San Benedeto who almost certainly put up a career best performance. Politologue looked every inch a top class chaser before tiring slightly on the run-in which didn’t surprisingly surprise me as he came in a few weeks later than most of our horses.
He settles a bit better now he is more experienced and runs next in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown while San Benedeto might appear next in a valuable handicap at Ascot.

Jumping is the name of the game and we had a couple of reverses, too, with Topofthegame tipping up at Newbury in midweek at the cross fence when travelling strongly and Mont Des Avaloirs an unlucky faller in front at the final flight on his hurdles debut at Wincanton. They were both fine afterwards and will have plenty more schooling before they run again.

This weekend we will be taking a strong team to Cheltenham with Le Prezien and Romain de Senam likely contenders for the BetVictor Chase while Old Guard and Amour de Nuit are pencilled in for the Greatwood Hurdle.

For all the latest news of our weekend runners please turn to my Betfair column on Friday evening.

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