Paul Nicholls’ Ditcheat based team were quietly confident regarding their chances at the start of this season. By his own admission, Paul Nicholls lacks the kind of Grade One firepower that chief rival Nicky Henderson has at his disposal. However, several of his chasers have significantly come to prominence this season and once again has a formidable twin pronged attack available to him for the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.
But let’s not get carried away. Clans Des Obeaux and Frodon are no Denman and Kauto Star, at least presently. Nevertheless, their performances this season this season have suggested that the youngsters that Paul Nicholls has been carefully nurturing in the last couple of seasons are coming to the fore. We’ll take a look at these two new stars on the block and cast our eye down the ante post lists for more potential Festival investments. First off, a decent looking handicapper with law enforcing potential..
GIVE ME A COPPER
Paul Nicholls rates this lightly raced 9 year old very highly as a long distance staying chaser and has the Aintree Grand National very much in mind as a target for this season (Currently 50/1 for this race with Ladbrokes, Bet Victor and Betfred). However, although he doesn’t hold any entries for the upcoming Cheltenham Festival, he is on the ante post price lists for The Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase on Day One.
He doesn’t have much racing action under his belt with plenty of gaps so it’s a possibility the handicapper hasn’t fully realised his potential, hence this could be a good proposition. He had a very encouraging first run for over a year in a decent Sandown handicap earlier in February. Jumping superbly he looked a potential winner a couple fences out but the stamina was clearly lacking, as he finished fourth. However, there’s no doubt he will improve vastly on this. 16/1 with Unibet for The Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase, Tuesday 12th March.
We mentioned Frodon as one of our best ante post bets last month. Paul Nicholls must be delighted at how this horse has successfully graduated from handicap company to present a real livewire Cheltenham Gold Cup hope. Frodon’s owner, Paul Vogt is firmly committed to a run in the steeple chasing blue riband although Nicholls is keeping the Ryanair option open if the ground is testing although the handler is not at all worried about the Gold Cup distance. Price wise Betfair really stand out on 16/1 for Frodon in the Ryanair Chase and also offer best odds of 20/1 for his Gold Cup chances.
CLANS DES OBEAUX
Paul Nicholl’s triumphant King George winner was all lined up for an enticing battle with Native River in the Denman Chase at Newbury last weekend. However, the equine flu threat sadly put that one to bed so it is difficult to see where Clan Des Obeaux can make an appearance before his tilt at the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday 15th March.
There are no confirmed reports of a rescheduled Newbury Super Saturday meeting at present. Nevertheless, Clan Des Obeaux represents Paul Nicholl’s best hope of a Gold Cup winner since the days of Silviniaco Conti. It remains to be seen though whether Clan Des Obeaux has the staying power to keep the likes of Presenting Percy and Native River at bay.
This improving 7 year old really made a name for himself when he battered the field in a valuable Ascot handicap last month. He returns to Ascot this weekend in listed company this time where is 5/2 (Betfair, Paddy Power) for the Betfair Ascot Chase.
He is also figuring in the betting at The Cheltenham Festival for The Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate where he is 20/1 (Betfair, Unibet). Expect that price to tumble if Cyrname figures prominently in the Saturday Ascot race.
OTHER NAMES TO LOOK OUT FOR
Magic Saint is a young French import that Paul Nicholls thinks maybe a decent prospect. He’s had a couple of runs this season, running well at Haydock before slightly disappointing at Ascot in late December. He’s entered for a decent handicap at Wincanton this weekend so a good performance there might lead him to more enticing challenges.
Topofthegame is Paul Nicholl’s leading novice chaser who has had two decent runs this season, most noticeably in the Kauto Star Novices Chase at Kempton last time out where he ran a brilliant race to finish within 2 lengths of the classy La Bague Au Roi. He holds entries for both the Cheltenham Festival novices chase championships namely The JLT Novices Chase (13/2 with Betfair and Boylesports) and The RSA Novices Chase (12/1 Betfair)
Paul Nicholls sends a much respected team to The Festival year and will certainly give Nicky Henderson a run for his money although Ditcheat need a Grade One winner to offset the Henderson banker Altior. Clan Des Obeaux in The Gold Cup looks the most likely to pull this off.
USEFUL INFORMATION - HOW TO BET!
WHAT ARE THE BEST BETTING OFFERS FOR CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 2019?
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Please note all odds are correct at the time of publishing (19:30 12th February 2019) and are subject to change.