Paul Nicholls didn’t look to have the obvious fire-power of previous seasons at this time last year but, despite that, and a lengthy period in which his horses were underperforming, he still secured his tenth Trainer’s Championship in eleven years.
If he’s to win his eleventh title this season, some of his younger horses must step into the shoes of byegone heroes such as Kauto Star, Denman, See More Business, Azertyioup, Silviniiaco Conti and Big Bucks. Therefore, we’ve picked out 7 Nicholls Trained horses that look sure to pay their way this season.
Aux Ptits Soins
If there’s one horse in his yard that Nicholls thinks has the potential to be as good as some of his stars of yesteryear, then it is this 152-rated hurdler. He won the 2015 Coral Cup on his debut for the stable, and didn’t disgrace himself in finishing fifth in the World Hurdle on his only start last season. However, Nicholls has just been biding time whilst he was ready to start his chasing career – and massive things are expected.
Clan Des Obeaux
It was slightly disappointing that he couldn’t take advantage of a big weight allowance on his chasing debut, but Nicholls knows this 4-year-old could have a long and prosperous chasing career ahead of him. Will probably pick-up a novice chase or two this season but, if he doesn’t, he could be one for one of the big-handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival.
Diego Du Charmil
Rated 138 when winning a listed handicap hurdle on his seasonal reappearance at Chepstow and, as he had to carry 11-8 that day, he could well continue to make giant strides this season. The Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham’s big November Meeting looks an obvious next step.
Nicholls wasted no time sending this strapping 4-year-old chasing and, after two novice wins, he’s already rated 146. Nicholls, who loves to break new ground, is lining him up to be the first 4-year-old to win the BetVictor Gold Cup, and there’s no reason he won’t do, as the stable won a similar handicap with Unioniste as a 4-year-old.
5-year-old who didn’t finish far behind the impressive Yorkhill at Aintree last season, and he’s another that was simply strengthening-up over the smaller obstacles before embarking on what will surely be another lucrative chasing career. JP McManus certainly thinks so, as he purchased him at the sales in May.
Last year’s Scottish National winner has the obvious target of the Grand National this year, but he wouldn’t want to be rated any higher than his current mark of 151 going into the big race. Interesting to see if Nicholls runs him over hurdles before hand to preserve his mark, or over fences with a view to getting his mark down a few pound before the National.
Looked like he may follow in the footsteps of Zarkander when winning the Adonis Hurdle on his stable debut, but flopped in the Triumph Hurdle. This beautifully bred flat-horse showed an amazing turn-of-foot on his debut though, and looks sure to plunder one or two nice handicaps this season before possibly stepping-up into graded company. Whether he’ll ever handle the Cheltenham Hill is open to debate though.