Bravemansgame fancied to secure fifth Cheltenham Gold Cup victory for Nicholls

Paul Nicholls last won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2009 with dual Gold Cup winner Kauto Star. (Pic: Courtesy of Jockey Club Racecourses).

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BRAVEMANSGAME is fancied to secure victory in the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup for Paul Nicholls who is targeting a fifth win in Cheltenham’s blue riband event.

The 13-time champion trainer first won the Gold Cup with See More Business in 1999 before landing a remarkable hat-trick of victories in the extended three and a quarter mile contest with Kauto Star (2007 & 2009) and Denman (2008).

Bravemansgame has been kept fresh this term. After winning the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase at his comeback race at Wetherby on October 29, Nicholls’ charge benefited from a 58-day break before proving far too good for his rivals when running out a 14-length winner of the Grade 1 Ladbrokes King George VI Chase over three miles at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.

The selection has not raced since Kempton and Nicholls appears upbeat about the chances of adding to his tremendous tally of Gold Cup winners.

“Bravemansgame’s done nothing wrong at all this year and I don’t think he was right last spring. We re-cauterized his palate during the summer, he’s had some time and I didn’t want to make the mistake of running him again between Kempton and Cheltenham,” Nicholls told Racing TV.

“He’s brilliant fresh and brilliant very fit. He’s twice the horse now as a model compared to what he was last year.

“We learnt a few things about him last year, you never stop learning how to train one and I think we’ve got it right now.”

Bravemansgame enters unknown territory in the Gold Cup as he seeks both his first win at Cheltenham and over the Gold Cup distance. However, Nicholls believes neither the course nor distance will pose a problem for the eight-year-old.

“With [previous King George winners] Clan Des Obeaux and Silviniaco Conti we always had little doubts about the track [Cheltenham]. But Bravemansgame has run there once and finished third in the Ballymore as a six-year-old. He got beaten by a horse (Bob Olinger) who on the day was an aeroplane.

“He’s won on all sorts of tracks and he’s the finished article now. I can assure you when he was six-years old he wasn’t half the horse he is now.”

“The one thing he did in the King George was he stayed on really strongly. He didn’t get the best passage that day and horses who win King Georges win Gold Cups.

“In the Gold Cup you turn into the straight and the best horse on the day wins and the horse that stays the best wins.

“I don’t know how he’ll get on up that hill, no one knows, but it was the same with Kauto Star. We didn’t know if he was going to get three and a quarter miles because he’d been winning at Kempton, but he did.

“It’s a good race and it will be hard to win, as any Gold Cup is, but I think he’s got a lovely chance – I think he’s one of our best chances of the week.

“He’s the best staying chaser in England, I think he’s proved that, and now he’s got to go and run probably the biggest race of his life.”

Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ for top horse racing tips and the latest news.


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