25 April 2023

Nicholls seeking personal best with another championship secured

25 April 2023

Paul Nicholls will head to Sandown on Saturday safe in the knowledge that a 14th trainers’ championship is already in the bag as he seeks to break his own prize money record.

Remarkably he is on course to break his best tally, set in 2007-08 when he housed the likes of Kauto Star, Denman, Master Minded and Big Buck’s.

He needs less than £100,000 to topple the £3,646,511 earned in that stellar season and with major chances right throughout Saturday’s valuable card, it will be a surprise should he not manage it.

“We had the likes of Kauto Star, Denman, Big Buck’s, Master Minded and Neptune Collonges back then when we set that total and they won plenty of big races that season,” said Nicholls.

“We’ve got Bravemansgame, who was second in a Gold Cup and who has won a King George VI Chase and Charlie Hall, but collectively across the board there wouldn’t be the number of stars like back then.

“We are almost certain to break it as it is less than £100,000 that we need. We have two or three in almost every race at Sandown and plenty of runners during the week so I would be disappointed if we don’t do it and do it by a good bit.

“We have got a 28 per cent strike rate as well and we are chuffed with that and it reflects well on the whole team. It is nice going into the meeting with no pressure as I’ve already won a 14th trainers’ championship.”

Greaneteen will head the charge, bidding to win the Grade One bet365 Celebration Chase for a third time. He could, though, face an unlikely rival in Nicky Henderson’s Jonbon.

“This is his race. He ran very well in the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He would have been second had he not made a bad mistake at the top of the hill. He then stayed on and ran a really fine race,” said Nicholls.

“He loves Sandown and he is in good shape and is fresh and well. Hopefully he will go very well.

“Jonbon is in there but he would have to take his form to the next level. We are top on ratings and it is a bit different novice chasing compared to this sort of level but he is obviously a good horse.”

Frodon is due to carry a big weight in the bet365 Gold Cup but Nicholls has aimed him at the race for some time.

I’ve had this race in mind for a while for Frodon

“I’ve had this race in mind for a while for Frodon. Good ground will suit him well. It would be handy if Hewick runs as he would keep the weights down,” said Nicholls.

“The track and trip will suit him a treat. He ran very well at Kempton the last day and he stayed on very well with 12st on his back. I think this is a nice race for him.

“It is a new trip but he has run well over an extended three and a quarter miles at Cheltenham and at Sandown on that good ground it will suit him well.”

Enrilo, Switch Hitter and Broken Halo are all set to join Frodon while Solo and McFabulous are in the bet365 Oaksey Chase, with the latter also holding an option over hurdles.

Knappers Hill is another with leading claims in the bet365 Select Hurdle.

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