Nicholls: Harry’s got to go to Ascot
Paul Nicholls has cited a clash in meetings between Haydock and Ascot as the reasoning behind Harry Cobden missing the ride on Bravemansgame in the Betfair Chase.
The gelding, who was second in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, has only ever been ridden by Cobden in 18 starts under rules as he is the Ditcheat stable jockey.
That will change on Saturday, however, as Daryl Jacob steps in for the mount at Haydock with Cobden due to head to Ascot to partner Pic D’Orhy in the Grade Two 1965 Chase.
Cobden is also expected to partner a full book of Nicholls-trained rides on the day and the trainer cites this as the reason for the change – with Cobden also seen as more pivotal to Pic D’Orhy’s success than he is to Bravemansgame’s.
“Harry’s got to go to Ascot, he’s got six good rides there including Pic D’Orhy. It wasn’t an easy decision but it’s sometimes good to let someone else have the ride because if ever you need a reserve in the future you’ve got one,” Nicholls said on a press call hosted by the Jockey Club.
“That’s the decision we’ve made and that’s what Bryan’s (Drew, owner) happy with so that’s where we’re going.
“We’ve always had Pic D’Orhy in mind going to Ascot, Johnny’s (De la Hay, owner) got 15 or 16 very nice horses in training with us and he needs looking after.
“Harry is very important to Pic D’Orhy, probably more so than the other way round with Bravemansgame. Sometimes when you’ve got big meetings on a Saturday you have to make tough decisions that are right for everybody.”
Nicholls rejected the suggestion that Cobden would not resume his partnership with last year’s King George winner, adding: “There’s no question about that, of course he would!
“Harry’s the stable jockey but he can’t be in two places on the same day. Of course he’ll ride him again.”
Bravemansgame is one of six confirmations for the first Grade One of the UK season.
Nicky Henderson had spoken all summer of targeting Shishkin at the race, with the King George VI Chase his main aim in the first half of the season, although he now also has the 1965 Chase at Ascot as an alternative option.
Last year’s winner Protektorat has had the race as his big target and will attempt to join the likes of Kauto Star and Cue Card as a multiple Betfair Chase winner.
Grand National hero Corach Rambler has been left in by Lucinda Russell but he will need to take a huge step forward from his seasonal reappearance at Kelso.
Royale Pagaille (Venetia Williams) and Minella Drama (Donald McCain) may also run.
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