Cheltenham festival – full details and quotes from Paul Nicholls press day today

binocularsPaul Nicholls said at a media stable visit organised by Cheltenham Racecourse ahead of The Festival – March 12-15: “This time last year we were in a bit of a different place – I had to cancel the media visit because the horses were coughing and we went into the 2012 Festival on the back of having a nightmare.


“This year, things have been totally different. We have had loads of winners, the horses are really well and healthy. We are much happier going into The Festival. It is exciting to have a lot of nice young horses coming along.”


Manor Farm Stables, Ditcheat,

Shepton Mallet, Somerset

Synopsis – Champion Jump trainer for the past seven seasons in Britain (2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12); became the first trainer to accrue more than £4 million in a season in 2007/08; recorded his 2,000th winner at Down Royal on November 5, 2011, 20 years after taking out his training licence, making him the quickest to reach this landmark figure in Jump racing.


Has sent out 32 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, including enjoying four victories in each of the meeting’s showpiece contests – the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Ladbrokes World Hurdle – and he is the fourth most successful trainer of all time at The Festival and the second most successful current trainer.


Won two of the biggest races missing from his glittering CV last season as Rock On Ruby captured the Stan James Champion Hurdle at The Festival and Neptune Collonges clinched the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree in thrilling fashion, enabling the trainer to gain his seventh title in succession.


Big Buck’s, the four-time winner of the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, is out of action this year because of injury, while other stable stars, such as the great Kauto Star, have retired from racing.


Born – Lydney, Gloucestershire, April 17, 1962 and grew up in Olveston near Bristol.


Background – son of a policemen, he partnered 119 winners as a Jump jockey between 1980 and 1989, with his biggest British successes coming in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on Broadheath (1986) and Playschool (1987), who also captured the 1988 Vincent O’Brien (Irish) Gold Cup with Paul up.


Having struggled to keep his weight down, he retired from race riding after breaking his left leg and, from 1989 to 1991, assisted Devon handler David Barons, trainer of not only Broadheath and Playschool but also Seagram, who won the 1991 Grand National at Aintree.


He took out a licence to train at Manor Farm Stables, owned by Paul Barber, in Ditcheat, Somerset, on November 1, 1991 and started with just eight horses.


First winner as a trainer – Olveston, owned by his parents, at Hereford, December 20, 1991.



William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (2006 Noland, 2011 Al Ferof)

Racing Post Arkle Trophy Chase (1999 Flagship Uberalles, 2003 Azertyuiop)

Stan James Champion Hurdle (2012 Rock On Ruby)

Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase (2009 Chapoturgeon)

RSA Chase (2006 Star De Mohaison, 2007 Denman)

Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase (1999 Call Equiname, 2004 Azertyuiop, 2008 & 2009 Master Minded)

Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2010 Sanctuaire)

Ryanair Chase (2005 Thisthatandtother, 2007 Taranis)

Ladbrokes World Hurdle (2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012 Big Buck’s)

JCB Triumph Hurdle (2008 Celestial Halo, 2011 Zarkandar)

Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle (2004 Sporazene, 2006 Desert Quest, 2009 American Trilogy)

Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (1999 See More Business, 2007 & 2009 Kauto Star, 2008 Denman)

CGA Foxhunter Chase (2004 Earthmover, 2005 Sleeping Night)

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase (2004 St Pirran, 2007 Andreas)



*1999-3 Racing Post Arkle Trophy Chase(Flagship Uberalles), Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase (Call Equiname), Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (See More Business)

2000- No winners

2001- cancelled

2002- No winners

2003-1 Racing Post Arkle Trophy Chase(Azertyuiop)

*2004-4 CGA Foxhunter Chase (Earthmover), Johnny Henderson Grand Annual (St Pirran), Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase (Azertyuiop), Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle (Sporazene)

2005-2 CGA Foxhunter Chase (Sleeping Night), Ryanair Chase (Thisthatandtother)

*2006-3 William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Noland), RSA Chase (Star De Mohaison), Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle (Desert Quest)

*2007-4 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual (Andreas), RSA Chase (Denman), Ryanair Chase (Taranis), Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (Kauto Star)

*2008-3 Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase (Master Minded), JCB Triumph Hurdle (Celestial Halo), Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (Denman)

*2009-5 Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase (Chapoturgeon), Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase (Master Minded), Ladbrokes World Hurdle (Big Buck’s), Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle (American Trilogy),  Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (Kauto Star)

2010-2 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Sanctuaire), Ladbrokes World Hurdle (Big Buck’s)

2011-3 William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Al Ferof), Ladbrokes World Hurdle (Big Buck’s), JCB Triumph Hurdle (Zarkandar)

2012-2 Stan James Champion Hurdle (Rock On Ruby), Ladbrokes World Hurdle (Big Buck’s)

*winner of The Irish Independent Leading Trainer Award



Argento Chase (1998 See More Business, 2001 See More Business, 2010 Taranis, 2011 Neptune Collonges)

Ascot Chase (2000 Rockforce, 2008 Kauto Star)

Bet365 Gold Cup (2001 & 2003 Ad Hoc, 2012 Tidal Bay)

Betfair Hurdle (2012 Zarkandar)

Betfair Chase (2006, 2007, 2009 & 2011 Kauto Star, 2012 Silviniaco Conti)

Betfred Bowl (2010 What A Friend, 2000 See More Business)

BGC Partners Liverpool Hurdle (2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012 Big Buck’s)

Cleeve Hurdle (2009 & 2012 Big Buck’s),

December Gold Cup (2009 & 2010 Poquelin, 2012 Unioniste)

Feltham Novices’ Chase (1993 See More Indians, 2003 Strong Flow, 2008 Breedsbreeze)

Galway Plate (2008 Oslot)

Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup (Ireland) (2009 Neptune Collonges)

Hennessy Gold Cup (2003 Strong Flow, 2007 & 2009 Denman) Champion Chase (2007 Taranis, 2008 & 2010 Kauto Star, 2012 Kauto Stone)

John Smith’s Grand National (2012 Neptune Collonges)

John Smith’s Melling Chase (2001 Fadalko, 2011 Master Minded)

John Durkan Memorial Chase (2008 Noland)

Kerrygold Champion Chase (2008 Twist Magic, 2009 Master Minded)

King George VI Chase (1997 & 1999 See More Business, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2011 Kauto Star)

Lexus Chase (2007 Denmab, 2009 What A Friend, 2012 Tidal Bay)

Long Walk Hurdle (2009, 2010 & 2011 Big Buck’s)

Matalan Anniversary 4-y-o Novices’ Hurdle (2003 Le Duc, 2011 Zarkandar)

Paddy Power Gold Cup (2012 Al Ferof)

Punchestown Champion Four Year Old Hurdle (2003 Sporazene)

Punchestown Gold Cup (2007 & 2008 Neptune Collonges)

Racing Post Handicap Hurdle (2003 Rigmarole, 2011 Brampour)

Scottish Grand National (1997 Belmont King) International Hurdle (2003 Rigmarole, 2012 Zarkandar)

Tingle Creek Chase (1999 Flagship Uberalles, 2002 Cenkos, 2005 & 2006 Kauto Star, 2007 & 2009 Twist Magic, 2008 & 2010 Master Minded)

Victor Chandler Chase (1999 Call Equiname, 2009 & 2011 Master Minded, 2010 Twist Magic)

Welsh National (2004 Silver Birch, 2005 L’Aventure)






4 b g Poliglote – Far Away Girl (FR) (Cadoudal (FR))

Form: 3-1111   Owner: Axom XXXIX  Breeder: Ecurie D



Third on sole hurdle start in France for Thomas Trapenard in April, 2012. Four from four over hurdles in Britain for current connections, scoring by 12 lengths on debut at Chepstow before two comfortable successes at Cheltenham in November (Grade Two JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial) and December. Beat highly-regarded River Maigue in a novices’ hurdle at Ascot on February 16.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 5; Wins: 4; 2nd: -; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £47,349


Last Run

Won a slowly-run novices’ hurdle over an extended two miles at Ascot (soft) by two and a half lengths from River Maigue on February 16.


Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

JCB Triumph Hurdle (March 15)     2m 1f  £120,000


Paul Nicholls said: “He is vying for favouritism for the Triumph and has won all four of his starts this season. He won at Ascot on Saturday in a very tactical affair.  He stays and he jumps and he has a devastating turn of foot as well. Ruby (Walsh) was very impressed with him on Saturday. We had gone out with a plan thinking that River Maigue would go off in front but Barry Geraghty wanted to follow us and we ended up in front. Far West sprinted away in the straight. He jumps great and has been working with Zarkandar and has improved enormously over the winter. He has got everything and is a proper little racehorse. Ruby is looking forward to the Triumph. Far West would compare favourably with Zarkandar. I suspect he will end up remaining over hurdles next season and could be really interesting.”



4 b/br g Saint Des Saints (FR) – Minirose (FR) (Mansonnien (FR))

Form: 112   Owner: Mrs Johnny De La Hey Breeder: S C E A Haras Du Ma



Won a Listed hurdle at big odds on debut at Auteuil, France, in September, 2012, when trained by Guy Cherel. Scored by 18 lengths for his new yard in a juvenile hurdle at Kempton Park on December 27 before chasing home Rolling Star in a Grade Two contest on Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham, January 26.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 3; Wins: 2; 2nd: 1; 3rd: -; Win & Place Prize Money: £38,259


Last Run


Second to Rolling Star in the Grade Two JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial Juvenile Hurdle over two miles and a furlong at Cheltenham (heavy) on January 26, beaten two and a quarter lengths but finished well clear of the third.


Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

JCB Triumph Hurdle (March 15)     2m 1f  £120,000




Shirocco (GER) – Fontaine Riant (FR) (Josr Algarhoud (IRE))

Jump Form: 2  Owner: Potensis Limited & Chris Giles Breeder: S C A La Perrigne



Progressive in six starts on the Flat in France for Nicolas Clement, winning once and finishing fourth in a Listed contest. Ran on to take second after encountering trouble in running on his hurdling debut at Newbury on February 9.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 1; Wins: -; 2nd: 1; 3rd: -; Win & Place Prize Money: £1,908


Last Run

Second of 12 to Chatterbox in an extended two-mile novices’ hurdle at Newbury (soft) on February 9, beaten two lengths, after being hampered two out.


Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

JCB Triumph Hurdle (March 15)     2m 1f  £120,000




4 b g Saint Des Saints (FR) – Loya Lescribaa (FR) (Robin Des Champs (FR))

Form: 21-1213 Owner: John & Barbara Cotton Breeder: Pierre De Maleissye Melun Et Al



Scored on his second start over hurdles in France for Guillaume Macaire in April, 2012. Made a winning British debut in a Listed contest at Wetherby in November, before coming home second in a Grade Two at Doncaster in December. Returned to winning ways in a competitive contest at Musselburgh on February 3 but third in his first handicap at Taunton yesterday.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 6; Wins: 3; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £51,782


Last Run

Kept on when third, beaten just over three lengths, at Taunton (heavy) in two mile, one furlong handicap hurdle on February 19.


Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

JCB Triumph Hurdle (March 15)     2m 1f  £120,000






9 br g Val Royal (FR) – Bint Al Balad (IRE) (Ahonoora)

Jump Form: 232  Owner:  CGA Racing Partnership 2  Breeder: Stephanie Hanly



Formerly trained by Brian Meehan and a useful stayer on the Flat. The only horse to win the famous Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket twice (2010 and 2012). Has shaped encouragingly on three starts over hurdles with placed efforts, when staying on, at Newbury, Doncaster and Ascot.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 3; Wins: -; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £6,617


Last Run

Second, beaten six lengths by Up And Go, over two miles and three furlongs at Ascot (soft) on February 16.


Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (March 15)    3m  £120,000



5 b g Dubawi (IRE) – Nova Cyngi (USA) (Kris S (USA))

Form: 246-113  Owner: Martin Broughton & Friends  Breeder: Frankie Dettori



Bred by Frankie Dettori. Won two of his nine starts on the Flat for Andy Oliver in Ireland, handicaps at Galway and Sligo in the summer of 2011; high-class form without winning as a juvenile hurdler last season, finishing second in the Grade Two Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton Park and fourth in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival. Two from two (Masterson Holdings Hurdle and Grade Two Opus Energy Novices Hurdle) at Cheltenham at the start of this season and then good third in Grade One Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 6; Wins: 2; 2nd: 1; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £53,348


Last Run

Kept on when third of seven to Darlan, beaten just over seven lengths, in the Grade Christmas Hurdle over two miles at Kempton Park (heavy) on December 26, 2012.


Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (March 12)   2m 110y £120,000


Paul Nicholls said: “I think he is almost the forgotten horse of the Festival. He runs in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and is a second-season novice. He was fourth in the Triumph Hurdle at The Festival last year. He won his first two starts this season at Cheltenham. He gave 7lb and beat River Maigue on the second of them. We were then a little bit ambitious to run him in the Christmas Hurdle. I wanted to give him a run over Christmas and have him really fresh for The Festival. He came third to Darlan and finished ahead of Countrywide Flame who was fourth. That is not bad form. I think he has a mark of 157 and he would compare favourably with Al Ferof and Noland who won the Supreme for us. He goes well fresh and has not really had his ground which is not worse than good to soft. He is really well. He wants a fast-run race so he can come from behind. I think he has a great chance and is a big price for the Supreme – we have trained him just for that race and everything is going to plan. It looks a hot race this year but always does.”




6 b g King´s Theatre (IRE) – Knocktartan (IRE) (King´s Ride)

Form: 1  Owner: Robin Geffen Breeder: M Doran



Won only start, a two-mile bumper at Gowran Park, Ireland, on October 6 for trainer John Hassett. Subsequently sold for £150,000 at Brightwells Cheltenham Sale in December.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 1; Wins: 1; 2nd: -; 3rd: -; Win & Place Prize Money: £4,600


Last Run

Won 20-runner two-mile bumper at Gowran Park, Ireland, (Good) on October 6 by two and a quarter lengths.


Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (March 13) 2m 5f  £120,000

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (March 15)    3m  £120,000





5 b/br g Balko (FR) – Merciki (FR) (Villez (FR))

Form: 3122P3-1521FOwner: Andrea & Graham Wylie Breeder: Gildas Blain


Successful over hurdles and scored once (Auteuil in September 2012) in seven progressive chase outings when trained by Guillaume Macaire in France, ending with second in a Grade One over two miles & six furlongs at Auteuil in November, 2012 . Made a winning start for new connections in a two mile & one furlong novices’ chase at Newbury in January, but fell when travelling best in a Grade Two at Warwick recently.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 11; Wins: 3; 2nd: 3; 3rd: 2; Win & Place Prize Money: £138,068


Last Run

Fell two out when looking the winner in the Grade Two Racing Post Arkle Trial Novices’ Chase over two miles at Warwick (heavy) on February 9.


Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

Racing Post Arkle Trophy Chase (March 12)   2m   £150,000

Jewson Novices’ Chase (March 13)     2m 4f  £100,000


Paul Nicholls said: “He has got two entries. We bought him just before Christmas and he had some form around Auteuil. He won over two mile and five furlongs there and led at the last in a Grade One over two mile, six furlongs but faded. I think he is likely to be more of a two-mile horse like Master Minded who came to us after running over further as well. He won well at Newbury over two miles and went to Warwick and was hard on the bridle when he fell at the second last – just what I did not want to happen before the Festival. He runs at Sandown on Friday over two miles as we want to get another run into him. I think he wants to run in the Arkle because he has loads of speed. If Simonsig and Overturn go a good gallop in front, you are not going to be taking them on and the race may be run to suit him as he has plenty of speed. He is a really decent horse and I think he will be a lot stronger next season when he should be a really good two-mile chaser.”



7 b g Dr Massini (IRE) – Kissantell (IRE) (Broken Hearted)

Form: 218-2111  Owner: The Johnson & Stewart Families Breeder: Colm Griffin



Point-to-point winner in Ireland; won at Grade Two hurdle over an extended three miles at Doncaster last season before finishing eighth in the Grade One Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival. Three from four over fences this term, winning decisively at Doncaster and Warwick before stepping up in class to land the Grade Two Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot on February 16.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 7; Wins: 4; 2nd: 2; 3rd: -; Win & Place Prize Money: £51,540


Last Run

Won the three-mile Grade Two Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase by a length and three quarters from Houblon Des Obeaux at Ascot (soft) on February 16.


Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

RSA Chase (March 13)      3m 110y £150,000


Paul Nicholls said: “I think Rocky Creek needs the ground really testing and we will probably leave him until Aintree.”



7 gr g Dom Alco (FR) – Idylle Collonges (FR) (Quart De Vin (FR)


Form: 1/93F/P-112 Owner: Angela Tincknell & Bill Tincknell Breeder:  Gaec Delorme Freres



French import, successful over hurdles at Auteuil in April 2010, who did not win in four starts over hurdles when tried highly by Paul Nicholls. Has proved more successful as a chaser, winning novice events at Fontwell and Cheltenham this season before running second at the latter course in November.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 8; Wins: 3; 2nd: 1; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £37,408


Last Run

Runner-up to Our Father, beaten 20 lengths, at Cheltenham on November 17 in novices’ chase over an extended three miles.


Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

John Oaksey National Hunt Chase (March 13)   4m  £85,000

RSA Chase (March 13)      3m 110y £150,000



5 gr g Dom Alco (FR) – Gleep Will (FR) (Cadoudal (FR)

Form: 2422165-11311 Owner: John Hales  Breeder: Haras De Saint-Voir Et Al


Consistent over hurdles in France, winning once, and triumphed on first start over fences at Auteuil in May 2012 when trained by Guillaume Macaire. Has won on three of his four starts for new connections including the valuable Grade Three Paul Stewart IronSpine Charity Challenge Gold Cup Handicap Chase over two miles and five furlongs at Cheltenham in December. Returned from a small break to win a competitive three-mile novices’ chase at Newbury on February 9.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 12; Wins: 5; 2nd: 3; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £130,631


Last Run

Won a three-mile novices’ chase by a short-head from Hadrian’s Approach at Newbury (soft) on February 9.


Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

RSA Chase (March 13)      3m 110y £150,000

Jewson Novices’ Chase (March 14)     2m 4f  £100,000


Paul Nicholls said: “I bought him in the summer from France, where he won an ordinary race over fences at Auteuil, and he has had a very good season.He won for us first time out at Aintree and then was placed at Cheltenham behind Dynaste after we made the running with him. I thought he had a really nice handicap mark and he won the Paul Stewart Gold Cup at Cheltenham in December – stayed on strongly and jumped well. I gave him the rest of the winter off and went to Newbury the other day. He won a three-mile novice chase, the race Denman won before taking the RSA Chase at The Festival. He is only five, has kept on improving and jumps great. He was probably 80 per cent right last time and had a good blow afterwards. We knew the Newbury race was going to be tricky with a small field.  He was in front too soon and idled up the straight and eventually won by a short-head. I always remember Kauto Star winning the Aon Chase by a head and then going on to win the Gold Cup. Unioniste has improved enormously for that prep race. He will be better with plenty of runners and a true gallop. He stays jumps, goes well at Cheltenham, and is definitely in with a chance. He is likely to go for the RSA – he is still in the Jewson  and if we had torrents of rain and the ground was bottomless we could switch him and bring Rocky Creek into the RSA. Unioniste has been trained with The Festival in mind.”





5 b g Poliglote – Victoria Royale (FR) (Garde Royale)

Form: 442512-1 Owner: Robin Geffen Breeder: Jean-Philippe Dubois



Six starts over hurdles in France for Tatiana Puitg, winning once at Auteuil in March, 2012 and finishing second in a Grade Two at the same course the following month. Impressed on only start for new connections when winning a Grade Two novices’ hurdle at Chepstow in October.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 7; Wins: 2; 2nd: 2; 3rd: -; Win & Place Prize Money: £92,881


Last Run

Won Grade Two Persian War Novices’ Hurdle over two and a half miles by six lengths in good style at Chepstow (good to soft) on October 27.


Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

Ladbrokes World Hurdle (March 14)     3m  £275,000


Paul Nicholls said: “He was choking on and off during the Persian War Novices Hurdle at Chepstow which he won. Straight afterwards we decided to sort his breathing out and he had an operation. He is in the Coral Cup and I would think that race is the favourite for where he runs at The Festival. His rating is 149 at the moment and I don’t know whether that is good, bad or indifferent. He had good Graded form at Auteuil and in a normal year we would have been able to give him a couple of more runs and he could have been heading down the World Hurdle route. We will try him in a handicap first now. He is a horse we like a lot and he is going to Kempton on Saturday to have a racecourse gallop as is Fascino Rustico.”


6 b g Azamour (IRE) – Zarkasha (IRE) (Kahyasi)

Form: 111/15F-111 Owner: Chris Giles & Potensis Limited Breeder: His Highness The Aga Khan’s Studs S C



Half-brother to 2008 Horse Of The Year on the Flat Zarkava; won once from three starts on the Flat in France. Leading juvenile hurdler during 2010/2011 season, winning the JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival and a Grade One at Aintree. Won a very competitive Betfair Hurdle on his reappearance last season but could only finish fifth in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at The Festival after an interrupted preparation. Unbeaten in three starts this season, winning a pair of Grade Twos at Wincanton either side of a game two-length success from Grandouet in the Grade Two Stan James International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 9; Wins: 7; 2nd: -; 3rd: -; Win & Place Prize Money: £363,444


Last Run

Won Grade Two Kingwell Hurdle over two miles by four and a half lengths from Khyber Kim at Wincanton (heavy) on February 16.


Entries at The Festival      Distance Value

Stan James Champion Hurdle (March 12)    2m 110y £400,000


Paul Nicholls said: “He has been totally different to how he was a year ago. He had just won the Betfair Hurdle and was coughing. He wasn’t quite right and we really struggled with him. He had a tiny little scar fracture of a hind leg in the autumn so we could not run him then. We rushed him for the Betfair Hurdle which he won. Then he started coughing and was nowhere near himself when he ran in the Champion Hurdle last year when he finished fifth after running a bit flat. Then he fell at Aintree. Otherwise he has won every race he has run in. He was three from three as a juvenile and has won all three this season. He keeps on winning and is the right age now, six. He has done nothing wrong this season. He have 17lb and beat Prospect Wells first time, then went to The International and won, galloping up the hill at Cheltenham. He idled on Saturday but won nicely. He is never going to flashy – he could have done on Saturday with a quicker pace. He jumps nicely and loves the Cheltenham hill. I think there is not a lot between Hurricane Fly, Rock On Ruby, this lad and possibly Grandouet. He prefers the New Course at Cheltenham but the Champion Hurdle is over almost a furlong less on the Old Course which is sharper. I would like to see the ground on the slow side and a fast-run race. He has got a great chance. Ruby (Walsh) was always going to have to ride Hurricane Fly this season and Daryl (Jacob) has won plenty of races on him. Daryl was always going to ride him but it makes no difference who rides him. Zarkandar is a good form and we are very happy with him.”





7 ch g Dom Alco (FR) – Gazelle Lulu (FR) (Altayan)

Form: 11/11134/31241-111 Owner: Chris Giles & Potensis Limited Breeder: Patrick Joubert



Ditcheat’s leading contender for Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup honours in 2013. Two from two over hurdles in France for Guillaume Macaire, he won a brace of Grade Two hurdles after joining Paul Nicholls in 2010 before being sent chasing last season, when he was successful in Grade Two events at Wincanton and Aintree. Began the current campaign by taking the Grade Two Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on November 3 before registering the first Grade One victory of his career in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on November 24, defeating Long Run by two and a half lengths. Warmed up for The Festival by winning the Grade Two Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury on February 9.

Jump Race Record: Starts:15 ; Wins: 10; 2nd: 1; 3rd: 2; Win & Place Prize Money: £376,524


Last Run

Won the Grade Two Betfair Denman Chase over three miles by seven lengths from The Giant Bolster at Newbury (soft) on February 9.


Entries at The Festival      Distance Value

Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup      3m 2f 110y£550,000


Paul Nicholls said: “He has done incredibly well this season. He got beat at Ascot last season and was not right when the horses were coughing. We thought we were not going to Cheltenham with him and went to Aintree instead. He won nicely. This year he won the Charlie Hall, the Betfair Chase from Long Run and then the other day he had his prep race at Newbury which he won nicely. We had left plenty to work on and the ground was testing – I was nervous that he was going to get a bit tired but he stayed on strongly. He jumps well and I keep reading that he cannot win at Cheltenham because he has not won at Cheltenham. We have not avoided Cheltenham with him. He ran in The International over hurdles and ran incredibly well for a three-mile horse against a lot of two-milers. He missed the RSA last year and was never going to run in the Argento. He has been around loads of different tracks on different ground. I have always thought he wanted good ground but he has coped well with soft ground this season. You can ride him any way you like. We did not plan to make the running in the Betfair Chase at Haydock but Long Run did not want to go on. Ruby decided at the start to bowl along in front. He would be suited by a real fast end-to-end gallop where he can sit in third or fourth and use his jumping and hopefully stay on strongly. He has progressed nicely, done everything right and come out of Newbury well. He was fresh and well this morning. My view is that the three novices from last season – Bob’s Worth, Silviniaco Conti and Sir Des Champs might be the three – Long Run obviously you can never rule out because he has been such a good horse. Any Gold Cup is hard to win but we think we are going there with a nice chance. He is workmanlike and does the job right – we have a chance of winning.”



7 b/br g Kendor (FR) – Biblique (FR) (Saint Cyrien (FR))

Form: 53113/F371P/855111-314 Owner: Potensis Limited/Chris Giles Breeder: S C A De Lageneste-Har De St Voir



Ex-French, placed third once from two starts over hurdles before coming to Britain in 2009. A three-time winner over hurdles, including the Grade Three Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at The Festival in 2010 and the Grade Two Scottish Champion  Hurdle in 2011. Sent chasing at the start of 2012, he won his first two starts in novice company before recording an emphatic 17-length success over seasoned rivals in the Grade Two Celebration Chase at Sandown on the final day of the season in April. Has run three times this season and won the Grade Two Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton Park on December 27 but found Sprinter Sacre too good in the other races.

Jump Race Record: Starts:19 ; Wins:7 ; 2nd: -; 3rd: 4; Win & Place Prize Money: £196,753


Last Run

Finished fourth, beaten 29 lengths behind Sprinter Sacre, in the Grade One Victor Chandler Chase over two miles and one furlong at Cheltenham (heavy) on January 26.


Entries so far at The Festival      Distance Value

Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase    2m  £350,000


Paul Nicholls said: “He has not had the best of seasons. He is in the Champion Chase and basically, with Sprinter Sacre a red-hot favourite, we are playing for crumbs. He did not run particularly well in the Victor Chandler Chase at Cheltenham when the ground was very soft. He is never very good at this time of year. If the ground dries up and we ride him a bit handier, he could pick up a bit of place money on his best form in the Champion Chase. His Gold Cup is at Sandown at the end of the season when the ground is fast – he loves it there. Sanctuaire looks way better than he did in the middle of January. He is probably not a Grade One horse – he has won Grade Twos and that is his level.”




Paul Nicholls said: “Ptit Zigis a four-year-old and in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at The Festival and at the moment is the favourite. He is a horse by Great Pretender and he had three runs at Auteuil. He was second one day and we bought him before Christmas, thinking he would be a Fred Winter horse. He went to Ludlow the other day and won quite nicely. He was quite green that day and showed plenty of promise. He had a handicap mark that day of 126 and went up 4lb for winning the race. 130 is a nice mark to be running in the Fred Winter on and he has a definite chance. The handicaps at The Festival are hard to win – we have won the Fred Winter before with Sanctuaire. He wants plenty of cut in the ground as he is a big chasing type of horse. He has pleased since Ludlow. He is a big green baby and different type of horse to Sanctuaire who went on to win a Grade Two over hurdles.”




First Day – Champion Day

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 (Old Course)     Distance Prize Money

1.30 William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade One)   2m 110y  £120,000

2.05 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase (Grade One)   2m  £150,000

2.40 JLT Specialty Chase (Handicap) (Grade Three)    3m 110y £90,000

3.20 Stan James Champion Hurdle (Grade One)    2m 110y  £400,000

4.00 Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Steeple Chase (Handicap) 3m 7f  £50,000

4.40 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Grade Two)      2m 4f  £85,000

5.15 Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed)  2m 4f 110y £60,000

TOTAL £955,000


Second Day – Ladies Day

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 (Old Course)      Distance Prize Money

1.30 John Oaksey National Hunt Chase (Amateurs)   4m  £85,000

2.05 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Grade One) 2m 5f  £120,000

2.40 RSA Chase (Grade One)      3m 110y £150,000

3.20 Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade One)  2m  £350,000

4.00 Coral Cup (Handicap Hurdle) (Grade Three)    2m 5f  £80,000

4.40 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade Three)   2m 110y £75,000

5.15 Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade One)   2m 110y £60,000

TOTAL £920,000


Third Day – St Patrick’s Thursday

Thursday, March 14, 2013 (New Course)      Distance Prize Money

1.30 Jewson Novices’ Chase (Grade Two)    2m 4f  £100,000

2.05 Pertemps Final (Handicap Hurdle) (Listed)    3m  £80,000

2.40 Ryanair Chase (Grade One)     2m 5f  £275,000

3.20 Ladbrokes World Hurdle (Grade One)    3m   £275,000

4.00 Byrne Group Plate (Handicap Chase) (Grade Three)    2m 5f  £90,000

4.40 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Amateurs)  3m 1f 110y £60,000

5.15 St Patrick’s Derby (Charity Flat Race)    1m 5f  –

TOTAL £880,000


Fourth Day – Gold Cup Day

Friday, March 15, 2013 (New Course)     Distance Prize Money

1.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade One)      2m 1f  £120,000

2.05 Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle (Grade Three)  2m 1f  £80,000

2.40 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade One)     3m  £120,000

3.20 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (Chase) (Grade One)    3m 2f 110y £550,000

4.00 CGA Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup (Amateurs)   3m 2f 110y £40,000

4.40 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle    2m 4f 110y £50,000

5.15 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase (Handicap) (Grade Three)  2m 110y £90,000

TOTAL £1,050,000



(UP £425,000 ON 2012 TOTAL OF £3,380,000)



(£125,000 IN 2012)

My thanks to Racenews for the above content



2 thoughts on “Cheltenham festival – full details and quotes from Paul Nicholls press day today

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