Paul Nicholls Stable Tour: Cheltenham Festival 2021

Paul Nicholls Stable Tour: Cheltenham Festival 2021

The Ditcheat handler is having a season to remember and after bursting out the blocks with a bagful of winners at Chepstow’s Jumps Season opener meeting, Paul Nicholls has never looked back.

With over £1.5 million in prize money already in the bank and a seasonal strike rate of over 25%, he heads into this year’s Festival as Britain’s in-form trainer and one that has some big guns to fire at Cheltenham’s iconic meeting.

The likes of Frodon, Bravemansgame and Politologue are just some of his Grade One winners already this season, but with plenty more set to tackle the Cheltenham hill, we’ve taken a look at some of Nicholls’ stable stars to follow.

Alcala

11-y-o grey gelding

Form: 6/F129-2

Verdict: A really consistent racehorse who performed with real credit in Hunter Chases last season, winning at Haydock, before coming second to Bob and Co in a tight tussle at Fontwell. He was slightly underwhelming in the Foxhunters at the Cheltenham Festival last year, when finishing 9th, but after coming second in a Hunter Chase at Musselburgh in early February, he’ll be aiming for the Foxhunters at Cheltenham again, and then Aintree.

Atholl Street

6-y-o bay gelding

Form: 6-11

Verdict: One of the few that were retained by Trevor Hemmings, this 6yo has certainly proved his worth this season by winning back-to-back novice hurdles at Taunton. The most recent of those came by an eye-catching 16 lengths and that has given him the chance to go for a crack at the Supreme on the opening day of the Festival.

Bravemansgame

6-y-o bay gelding

Form: 35-2111

Verdict: Talked about in the same breath as the great Big Bucks, this could be a horse that is really going places over the next few seasons. He was excellent in winning the G1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury most recently, and eased clear of the field after the last that day. He’ll be a real player in the Ballymore, but the best of him could be in the seasons that follow.

Cyrname

9-y-o bay gelding

Form: 1/12F-1P

Verdict: A star name of National Hunt racing, Cyrname proved to have stamina in the tank when easily winning the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby back in October. However, he disappointed in the King George at Christmas and was pulled up before the third last. He’s not a horse that usually makes the trip to Cheltenham because of his preference to go right handed, but he does hold entries in both the Ryanair and the Gold Cup, which was talked up after that Charlie Hall success.

Duc Des Genievres

8-y-o grey gelding

Form: 2F5-237

Verdict: A former Arkle winner for Willie Mullins, this eye-catching grey made the move to Ditcheat prior to this season and has showed a decent level of form so far in the UK. Placed efforts in the Shloer and the Desert Orchid, where followed up by a below par effort in the Clarence House. That would suggest that he isn’t quite top level anymore and would only be a bit-part player in the Champion Chase.

Eglantine Du Seuil

7-y-o bay mare

Form: 40-5823

Verdict: Another former Mullins in-mate, this mare hasn’t won since winning the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival in 2019. She’s shown very little in defeat for Nicholls this season either, and other than a fair enough effort to finish 2nd to The White Mouse at Cheltenham in December, she’s been very disappointing. The Mares Hurdle would be a possibility at the Festival this year, but she’d be something of an outsider.

Fast Buck

7-y-o brown gelding

Form: 258-F2F

Verdict: A two-time winner for Willie Mullins, Fast Buck is yet to get off the mark for Paul Nicholls in three attempts this season. Two of those have seen him fall, and that would be a concern heading into races at the Cheltenham Festival. He did run well when only beaten a head by Est Illic at Doncaster in December, but he’d need to improve to take his entry in the Arkle and might be suited better to the Grand Annual.

Frodon

9-y-o bay gelding

Form: 314-141

Verdict: There are few better partnerships in National Hunt racing than Frodon and Bryony Frost, and this year they have pushed that pairing to a new level by winning the King George at Kempton. That result has opened up a shot at the Gold Cup, and given his love for front running around Cheltenham, he’ll certainly give you a run for your money in the big race.

Greaneteen

7-y-o bay gelding

Form: 1114-12

Verdict: Finished fourth in last season’s Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival, but has taken his form to a new level over fences this term by winning the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter. More recently, he was second to Politologue in the Tingle Creek at Sandown, so is worthy of a shot at Champion Chase.

Hitman

5-y-o bay gelding

Form: 1/12F

Verdict: A typical Nicholls recruit in that his was bought from France with the future in mind. He won on his British debut and then finished a close second to Allmankind in the G1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown. However, despite calls for him to go to the Festival, he fell in the Scilly Isles and Nicholls has since confirmed that he’s likely to head for Aintree rather than Cheltenham. He still holds entries in the Arkle and the Marsh.

Magic Saint

7-y-o bay gelding

Form: 17-6144

Verdict: A consistent performer, he’s enjoyed plenty of trips to Cheltenham so far in his career and currently holds course form of 05714. That victory at the track came in a decent class two in November, with plenty of nice types in behind him including the likes of Fanion D’Estruval and Beat The Judge. His rising mark would probably rule him out of the handicaps, so the Champion Chase could be his destination.

Master Tommytucker

10-y-o

Form: FF-21171

Verdict: He had trouble with his jumping last season, but seems to have got his act together this term and was an impressive Grade Two winning at Kempton last time, winning the Silviniaco Conti Chase by 12 lengths. Prior to that, he was 7th at Cheltenham, but he nodded on landing at the second last and didn’t seem to get up the hill. That would be a worry ahead of a possible shot at the Ryanair.

McFabulous

7-y-o bay gelding

Form: 411-131

Verdict: A really progressive gelding, this 7yo has been a picture of consistency this season, winning two of his three starts. His first was in the G2 Persian War at Chepstow, before finishing 3rd in the G2 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, and then getting back to winning ways in the G2 Relkeel Hurdle at Kempton. He’s clearly a strong stayer and would have an each-way squeak in the Stayers Hurdle.

Next Destination

9-y-o bay gelding

Form: 131-211

Verdict: Has continued his fine run of form since making the switch from Mullins to Nicholls, and is two from three this season. Those have both come in Grade Two company, including the John Francome Novices’ Chase at Newbury and the Hampton Novices Chase at Warwick. He’s already finished 3rd and 4th in two visits to the Cheltenham Festival, and has a chance to better that record in this year’s Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

Politologue

10-y-o grey gelding

Form: 2/251-12

Verdict: This popular grey was a runaway winner of the Champion Chase last season and will be hoping to follow suit this year. He opened this season with a win in the Tingle Creek but then could only finish second to First Flow in the Clarence House at Ascot. You’d expect him to be sharper for his trip to Cheltenham and is expected to give another good account.

Real Steel

8-y-o bay gelding

Form: 41P6-3P

Verdict: Looked as though he was going to win the Gold Cup as they turned for home last season, but eventually faded into sixth and has done nothing to reproduce that effort since then. He was a disappointing third at Ascot in November and was then pulled up at Kempton in the King George. The Ryanair may be more his bag this year, rather than another go at the Gold Cup.

Solider of Love

8-y-o bay gelding

Form: 11112P

Verdict: Put together a four-timer in the summer but then stepped up to finish second in a class two at Cheltenham, when beaten by the NH Chase-bound Galvin. He’s since been pulled-up back at the same track in November, but could still follow Galvin to the National Hunt Chase.

Threeunderthrufive

6-y-o bay gelding

Form: 21-111

Verdict: Unbeaten in his last four starts, including when stepped up to three miles to win the Scottish Stayers Novices’ Hurdle at Musselburgh. That would put him in the Albert Bartlett picture, or even the Ballymore if connections wanted to drop back to 2m5f.

Barbados Bucks

6-y-o bay gelding

Form: 75-2111

Verdict: Unbeaten in his last three starts, this 6yo has certainly improved for going over a hurdle and scored in nice fashion at Wincanton most recently, where he continued his trend of being a well backed winner. He's yet to taste graded company, but certainly looks a strong stayer and given he is a former P2P winner, you'd have to give him a squeak in the Albert Bartlett. 

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