Cheltenham - At The Races

Paul Nicholls Stable Tour

    The six-time champion at Cheltenham is is firmly in the ascendancy and his string is led by Gold Cup second fav Clan Des Obeaux and bolstered by live chances in Grade 1s plus leading handicap fancies.
  • Wednesday 27 February 2019
  • Stable Tours

For Paul Nicholls, it looks likes the good old days are returning with a leading contender for the Magners Gold Cup in the shape of Clan Des Obeaux and a battalion of Cheltenham hopefuls that would be the envy of most trainers.

The Ditcheat trainer took his first Gold Cup in 1999 with See More Business and Kauto Star (2007 and 2009) and Denman (2008) have ensured that Jewel in the Cheltenham crown has been celebrated in style in the local Manor House Inn.

Nicholls, champion trainer at the meeting for four times in succession from 2006 to 2009, notched up a double with Pacha Du Polder and Le Prezien which took his total to 43 winners at the Festival and that pair once, again, look likely to be on duty.

The tough as teak Frodon and Topofthegame look sure to make their presence felt in their chasing engagement and Magic Saint looks a very live one for the Grand Annual too.

The novice hurdle and juvenile division from Ditcheat looks strong with Quel Destin, Pic D’Orchy, Grand Sancy and Friend Or Foe throwing their hats into the ring.

Nicholls said: “It is great to have horse that that is a live Gold Cup hope in the shape of Clan Des Obeaux and it is a race that obviously everyone wants to win and has been kind to us in the past. We are very excited about the team we are taking to the Festival and let’s hope we can improve our record at the meeting.”

Nicholls kindly spoke to Tony Elves of attheraces.com about his hopes for the highlight of the Jumps season.

Older Horses

Clan Des Obeaux (FR)

  • 7-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Kapgarde - Nausicaa Des Obeaux (April Night)
  • Trained by: P F Nicholls
  • Last Race: Aintree, 4 Apr 2019 14:50
  • Result: 2/6, tracked leaders, switched towards outside before 5th, pushed along 4 out, one pace when hung left between last 2, ridden and stayed on to snatch 2nd final strides, no chance with impressive winner
  • View full form
Form Profile:

173-rated chaser. Has looked an improved performer in his last two starts and landed the Grade 1 King George VI Chase at Kempton (3m) on Boxing Day and followed up with a smooth 11-length success from Terrefort in the Grade 2 Denman Chase at Ascot (3m) this month.

Trainer Says:

He is one of the favourites for the Gold Cup and he had a great season so far. He ran very well in the Betfair Chase and we knew he would improve enormously that day to Kempton He won the King George very well and then he won well at Ascot when taking the Denman Chase. Everything, touchwood, has gone to plan and he has come out of that race well. We keep thinking it was a soft race the other day but he a dual Grade 1 winner in Terrofort and absolutely murdered him. It was good to see him travel so well and jump the other day. He winged the last and quickened up all the way to the line. Last year we couldn’t train him the way we wanted as he babyish issues which held us up all the time. From the day he won his first three-year-old hurdle we knew he was going to be a proper chaser. Everyone keeps saying he hasn’t won at Cheltenham in four starts. The first time when he ran he was only just beaten in a listed Juvenile Hurdler and he should never have run in the Triumph Hurdle but at the time he was part-owned by Jared Sullivan and he wanted him to run. He was then second, when just turned five, to Whisper in the Dipper which was good form and then he carried 11st 12lb when finishing second to Guitar Pete in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup where the winner had only 10st 2lb. He was still a bit green and Harry got off that day and said he was still learning about his job. Now we are where we want to be. He is an experienced horse now that has matured and done the talking himself the last few runs. His prep race at Ascot couldn’t have gone better and we are really excited about run him in the Gold Cup. Of all the horses in the Gold Cup he is probably the improving youngster and we don’t know what he will end up being rated or where he will end up. Kauto Star won his first Gold Cup at seven so he is the right age and fingers crossed he will run a big race.

Video Form
16 Feb 2019:
8 Oct 2016:

Friend Or Foe (FR)

Form Profile:

128-rated hurdler. Made a winning debut for the stable when scoring by a length and a quarter from Zafar in a novices’ hurdle at Taunton (2m 1/2f) in December.

Trainer Says:

He is one of the favourites for the Fred Winter and it is a race in which we have done really well in the past. He is a horse we thought might be the type for the race when he bought him after he had finished fourth in two runs in France in the summer. He went to Taunton over Christmas and he made all the running and won nice and got a mark of 128. He purposely hasn’t run since as it’s pointless going up another 7lb. Off 128 the last three or four years he would get in the Fred Winter off or near bottom weight. He went to Wincanton last week and galloped really nicely and is an exciting prospect for the race.

Video Form
22 Apr 2019:

Frodon (FR)

Form Profile:

169-rated chaser. Has won three of his four starts this season and last to successes have come at Cheltenham. Had a length and a quarter to spare over Cepage when landing the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (2m 4 1/2f) off a mark of 164 and followed up with a half-length success from Elegant Escape in the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase (3m 1 1/2f) in January.

Trainer Says:

He had had a wonderful season and has just improved and improve. He won the Old Roan first time out then was second at the November Meeting in the BetVictor and we probably didn’t ride him as aggressively as we should have done. We changed tactics and he won the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup under topweight and then the Cotswold Chase the other day. We had had given him a break and we left plenty of work on him that day and he was big enough. He just got a bit tired from the back of the second last and it was like his first run of the season again. He is the Ryanair and the Gold Cup and we will make a plan depending on what is going to run in each race. We will run him in the race in which we think he has his best chance and I’m not worried about the trip in the Gold Cup as he will gallop and stay all day but that will be a tougher race than the Ryanair over that trip and the Ryanair may cut up. He will give a good account of himself whatever.

Video Form
17 Feb 2018:
23 Dec 2017:
25 Nov 2017:
13 Oct 2017:
30 Sep 2016:

Getaway Trump (IRE)

Form Profile:

143-rated hurdler. Finished runner-up, beaten two and a half lengths, to Champ in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury (2m 4 1/2f) in December and another creditable effort latest start when fourth, beaten six and three quarter lengths, to Al Dancer in the Grade 3 Betfair Handicap Hurdle at Ascot (1m 7 1/2f) this month.

Trainer Says:

“He was second to Champ in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury over Christmas and then was fourth in the Betfair Hurdle at Ascot the other day, but it just didn’t go right for him – they went no gallop at all and he got a bit behind but stayed on and finished fourth. He really wants two and a half miles. My dilemma is which race to run him in as he is in a £50,000 novices’ hurdle at Kelso which is tempting and if he did that he would go to Aintree. I could run him in the Ballymore but the Coral Cup off 143 is looking quite attractive. I have to make a decision and I suspect we will run him in the Coral Cup.

Video Form
16 Feb 2019:
19 Nov 2018:
30 Oct 2018:

Give Me A Copper (IRE)

Form Profile:

145-rated chaser. Finished fourth, beaten 12 ¼ lengths, to Classic Ben on his reappearance in a handicap chase at Sandown (3m) in February off his current mark.

Trainer Says:

He would be one of our interesting ones on the first day in the Ultima Handicap Chase. He is favourite for the race and he is fragile but talented. As a you horse he won his only point-to-point, a couple of bumpers and he won a couple of novice hurdles for us. He came in last season and won his novice chase at Kempton and sustained an injury. He came back at Sandown the other day with a big weight and he ran a really good fourth. He travelled well, jumped well and then just got a bit tired from the second last. I left him so that race would bring him on with the idea of going to the Ultima and then if he goes well in that he would go to the Grand National. He has not had a great deal of experience, but he is a solid jumper and is a class horse. I would be very hopeful of a big run in the Ultima.

Video Form
28 Jan 2017:

Grand Sancy (FR)

Form Profile:

152-rated hurdler. Improving with experience and gained latest victory in the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton (1m 7 1/2f) when scoring by three quarters of a length from Sceau Royal. Had previously finished runner-up, beaten half a length, to Elixir De Nutz in the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown (2m) in January.

Trainer Says:

He has had a great season and he will run in the Supreme. He was just beaten in the Tolworth by Elixir De Nutz and we ran him the other day in the Kingwell Hurdle and he won beating Sceau Royal and Vision Des Flos who won the National Spirit at Fontwell on Sunday. He really toughed it out for a novice and is a proper horse now. He has come out of the race well and he is every bit as good as Al Ferof and Noland what won the Supreme for us before and he is probably quite a big price. Al Dancer is favourite and he is rated the same as him and I wouldn’t say there is much between them. We think we have a great chance with him in what looks an open-looking race. The last novice we had win the Kingwell was Azertyuiop who won the Arkle and the Champion Chase so it would be nice to think this lad could go on too and he'll go novice chasing next season.

Video Form
22 Dec 2018:
13 Oct 2018:

Le Prezien (FR)

Form Profile:

151-rated chaser. Landed the Grand Annual Handicap Chase by four and a half lengths from Gino Trail at Cheltenham (2m 1/2f) last March. Two very much below par effort in chases this season.

Trainer Says:

He is a bit behind in his coat compared to some of the others but for him though he is quite well forward. He is 1lb higher than when he won the Grand Annual last year and he is a funny horse who always comes good in the Spring. If he can jump really well and put in one of his better rounds of jumping he is not without a chance.

Video Form
20 Oct 2018:
28 Apr 2017:
28 Oct 2016:

Magic Saint (FR)

  • 5-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Saint Des Saints - Magic Poline (Trempolino)
  • Trained by: P F Nicholls
  • Last Race: Chepstow, 22 Apr 2019 15:45
  • Result: 2/4, chased leaders, niggled along after 2nd, went 2nd before 5 out, looked held 2 out, threatened briefly last, no impression flat
  • View full form
Form Profile:

149-rated chaser. Formerly trained in France and gained his first success for the stable in a handicap chase at Wincanton (1m 7 1/2f) this month when scoring an easy four and a half length win from Gino Trail off a mark of 142.

Trainer Says:

He won at Wincanton ten days ago in a two mile handicap chase. He was a four times winner at Autueil last year over hurdles and fences and he has just taken a little while to acclimatise. He ran very well on his first run at Haydock and he just needed it. He went to Ascot over two and a half and got the hang of it over our fences and we went to Wincanton and he absolutely sluiced in over two miles he jumped well and travelled well. We were always training him with the Grand Annual in mind. He is a progressive horse that is going forward. Daryl (Jacob) who rode him at Wincanton was absolutely thrilled with him.

Video Form
22 Apr 2019:
22 Dec 2018:

Pacha Du Polder (FR)

Form Profile:

138-rated chaser. Winner of the Foxhunter at Cheltenham (3m 2 1/2f) for the past two years. Scored by a neck from stablemate Wonderful Charm in 2017 and by a neck from Top Wood in 2018. Well beat on his reappearance at Haydock (2m 6f) this month.

Trainer Says:

Pacha did his first normal ordinary run and just had a run round. He has come back well from that run and is lot sharper now. Cheltenham seems to suit him when they go flat out and you can just ride him in behind and pass a few horses. He seems to know when to go at Cheltenham and that will be his last run unless Andy (Stewart) changes him mind.

Video Form
21 Feb 2018:
10 Feb 2017:

Pic D'orhy (FR)

  • 4-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Turgeon - Rose Candy (Roli Abi)
  • Trained by: P F Nicholls
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 15 Mar 2019 13:30
  • Result: 10/14, mid-division, tracked leaders 4th, in touch on outside when mistake 2 out, driven and lost place before last, soon weakened
  • View full form
Form Profile:

149-rated hurdler. Smart form in France where he won three of his seven starts.

Trainer Says:

He had got a French mark over here the equivalent of 149 which put him right up there with the best juveniles in this country and Ireland. He is a proper big chasing type bought with a future in mind. He won three times at Auteuil in the Autumn and he was placed in a Grade 1 and he has proper nice form. We took him to Wincanton last week for a racecourse gallop and we were delighted. We either go straight for the Triumph Hurdle with him or skip and go straight to Aintree then look at running him is one of the better French four-year-old races in May.

Video Form
4 Nov 2018:

Posh Trish (IRE)

Form Profile:

145-rated hurdler. Has won four of her five starts and gained her latest success in a listed mares’ novices’ hurdle at Taunton (2m 1/2f) in December when beating Indefatigable two lengths.

Trainer Says:

She is a very good mare and is rated 145 which is one of our highest rated novice hurdlers. One thing about this mare is that she has had a bit more experience than some of the others. She has won four times over hurdles and is tough and gallops. She won twice in a week over Christmas including a listed hurdle at Taunton over two miles. She would love a bit of cut in the ground and if we get some and we are running her over shorter we will be making plenty of use if her. It is nice to have a good mare to run and she will make a lovely chaser in time. We have purposely not run her since Christmas as she goes quite well when fresh and has plenty of experience. She goes for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle and we think she has got a great chance.

Video Form
13 Oct 2018:
22 Dec 2017:

Quel Destin (FR)

Form Profile:

146-rated hurdler. Has won five of his six starts since joining the stable from France. Very slick hurdler who scored by six lengths from Capone on his latest start in the Victor Ludorum Hurdle at Haydock (1m 7 1/2f) this month.

Trainer Says:

He just got beaten first time out at Chepstow for us, but he was a bit green and inexperienced in regard to hurdling and British racing that day. He won a Grade 1 at Chepstow over Christmas and he has won a couple of Grade 2s – one at Cheltenham. He came back the other day and he won the Victor Ludorum at Haydock. I was surprised how well he won as he was big and well and he would have need that run. He is a proper tough four-year-old and just the type you want in the Triumph Hurdle. He can make the running if they go no gallop and he jumps well and will gallop up the Cheltenham hill. I know Sir Erec is a short-priced favourite but they will have to be tough to go past this lad as he has got it all. He might not have been a great Flat horse like Sir Erec but he is a proper jumping horse that keep winning and getting better. He can win on soft ground and quick ground he is probably a bigger price than he should be.

Video Form
27 Dec 2018:
15 Dec 2018:
14 Oct 2018:

Topofthegame (IRE)

  • 7-y-o; chestnut gelding
  • Breeding: Flemensfirth - Derry Vale (Mister Lord)
  • Trained by: P F Nicholls
  • Last Race: Aintree, 5 Apr 2019 14:50
  • Result: 2/6, held up towards rear, not fluent 13th, pushed along in rear 4 out, left 4th next, rallied to chase front pair between last 2, ridden and stayed on to snatch 2nd near finish, never going pace to threaten winner
  • View full form
Form Profile:

155-rated chaser. Finished second, beaten three and a half lengths, to Defi Du Seuil in a novices chase at Exeter (2m 3f) in December and another highly creditable effort when runner-up, beaten a length and a half, to La Bague Au Roi in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices Chase at Kempton (3m) on Boxing Day.

Trainer Says:

He is in the RSA but he is also in the JLT and he is almost certain to run in the RSA. The only way he would run in the JLT if the weather changed and it was a foot deep of mud but that isn't going to happen. This is probably as a tall a horse as you would see in training. He is huge and has lots of ability. He won his point-to-point and he was a good novice hurdler. He won a £100,000 handicap over hurdles then he got beat a head in the Coral Cup at the Festival. It was a bit of disaster on his first run over fences this season, although it may not have been such a bad thing, he whipped round the start at Exeter, the race which Defi Du Seuil won. By the time they had gone he gave them the best part of 25 to 30 lengths. He then finished second to Defi Du Seuil which is top class form and then he went to Kempton over Christmas and was second in the Kauto Star to La Bague Au Roi. The winner won the Grade 1 at Leopardstown the other day and that is really good form. That day he looked like the winner turning in - Harry sent him on and the minute he hit the front, as he has done in the past, he was a little bit green and he finished second. We've purposely not run him since as he goes well fresh and he will go straight to the RSA and hopefully we can go to Aintree afterwards. He is a high-class chasing in the making. He is hopefully one of our big chances at Cheltenham.

Video Form
18 Feb 2017:
16 Dec 2016:

Wonderful Charm (FR)

  • 11-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Poliglote - Victoria Royale (Garde Royale)
  • Trained by: P F Nicholls
  • Last Race: Stratford, 31 May 2019 19:50
  • Result: Won/8, jumped slowly and lost place 1st, headway on inside chasing leaders 13th, reminder after 15th, went 2nd between last 2, upsides and not fluent last, switched left run-in, led close home
  • View full form
Form Profile:

137-rated chaser. Scored by 55 lengths from Boa Island in a Hunter Chase at Doncaster (3m 2f) this month on his latest start.

Trainer Says:

He won by 55 lengths at Doncaster the other day and he was right back to his best. I think the Foxhunter is an open race and on his best form that would give him a right chance.

Video Form
20 Feb 2019:
17 May 2018: