Paul Nicholls previews 2020/21 national hunt season

Paul Nicholls. (Pic: Courtesy of Jockey Club Racecourses).

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PAUL Nicholls has won the national hunt trainers’ championship 11 times and bagged a notable win with Frodon at Cheltenham’s first meeting of the new season.

Frodon – the winner of the 2019 Ryanair Chase – defied top-weight at Cheltenham on Saturday to score a resounding victory in the Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap Chase.

The 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup appears to be the target for Frodon who is best-priced at 25-1 and as short as 18-1 for the showpiece race of The Festival.

Earlier this month Nicholls outlined his plans for the season for some of his leading contenders.

Speaking on Betfair’s Racing Only Bettor podcast (October 6), Nicholls said:

Paul Nicholls on Clan Des Obeaux: “I think he’s the best he’ s ever looked. He’s still only eight-years-old. He seems to have been around forever, but he’s eight, probably the peak of his life.
“Our target is the Betfair Chase at Haydock at the end of November, so we don’t want to get him ready too quick, but I’m very, very happy with the way he looks and the way he’s going. He’s not going to go back to Cheltenham whatever happens.” 

Paul Nicholls on Cyrname: “He looks great now. He’ s had a great summer, he’s in as good a shape as he was this time last year. He’ s a little bit more laid back now in his work and everything he does than he ever used to be, but he looks great.” 

Paul Nicholls on Pic D’ Orhy: “Last year, we didn’t run him in the Champion Hurdle. We never thought he’s been a Champion Hurdler or a speedy horse. He’s a really staying, chasing type of horse. He was bought as a chaser, so it was just about binding time now actually until he went chasing, and of course, we got lucky and won the Betfair Hurdle which was brilliant. He’s all ready to go in fencing and that’s where his future will lie, I’m sure.” 

Paul Nicholls on McFabulous: “Physically, he’s done very well. He’s a big strong horse now, he’s a half-brother to Waiting Patiently, so he’ s from a good family, good bumper horse for us.
“He was very slow last year over hurdles, to get his act together, he was very slow at home schooling, he had a fall at home schooling and his first run at Chepstow, the hurdle fell down in front of him and he lost his bottle a little bit.
“Then he went to Ascot on very heavy ground. He wasn’t right and underperformed, but because of that, he actually handicapped himself a little bit and I just thought, we’re not going to win at Cheltenham with him this year, it’ s a bit too much, why not try and win the EBF final? So we went to Market Rasen, won there quite nicely. He jumped brilliantly. Got a really good mark and went to Kempton and I honestly couldn’t see him being beat that day. It all fell into place for him. He was going to be at Sandown the week before where the ground was testing and it was abandoned. Going to Kempton the Saturday after Cheltenham suited him well and he loved it around there and he put the race to bed very, very quickly and easily. He’s a proper horse, he is.” 

Paul Nicholls on Topofthegame and a Ladbroke Trophy bid: “He obviously won the RSA, won that nicely, the form was great, and it was a setback last year not being able to run him, but sometimes a big horse like him, a year off never does them any harm. He’s had time to mature and he looks fantastic at the moment. I’ m very happy with his prep and just need to keep him sound and well and head off to Newbury. That’s the plan.
“There’s not really anything suitable to run him in beforehand where the ground would be safe as a prep run for that, so we have to try and do a Denman and get him there in the best of shape, fit enough to go and do himself justice.” 

Paul Nicholls on Laurina: “She looks fantastic. She’s done a lot of jumping over hurdles and fences. She, I understand, bled on the twice that she ran ordinarily. Obviously, her first run over fences was very, very good and the form was good, but she went straight in when she got in and had a breathing operation. So, I’m hoping that was the cause of her bleeding which often is the case, and if it work like it did with something like Tidal Bay, that’d be a right result. But she’s a lovely filly. She’s taken a while to settle into things, but she’s working nicely. Very straightforward, looks great. I’ll probably start her off over hurdles. I haven’t discussed it fully with Jared [O’Sullivan, owner] but I think we might start her in that two-and-a-half-mile hurdle at Ascot towards the end of November, then make a plan from there.”

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