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Cheltenham Festival - The Paul Nicholls Challenge

Paul Nicholls was top trainer at the Cheltenham Festival four years running between 2006 and 2009 since when Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott and Nicky Henderson have dominated.

Bet365 Top Festival Trainer Odds

Gordon Elliott                 13-8
Nicky Henderson              7-4
Willie Mullins                    2-1
Joseph O’Brien               16-1
Paul Nicholls                   20-1

SHARJAH - 10-1 ( each-way ) with Betfair 10/1 Betfair

NICHOLLS TEAM IN FINE FORM AHEAD OF FESTIVAL

 

Ditcheat handler Paul Nicholls faces a stiff task to win his first Cheltenham Festival trainers title since 2009 but such is the form of the stable that it would be no surprise to see him go close against his three main rivals – Gordon Elliott, Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson.

The Leading Contenders From The Paul Nicholls Stable:

CLAN DES OBEAUX – 5-1 with Coral for Gold Cup in their latest Cheltenham betting odds. Looked anything but a potential Gold Cup winner when only fourth behind Bristol De Mai, Native River and Thistlecrack in Haydock’s Betfair Chase on his first run of the season. The seven-year-old turned the tables on those three horses when winning the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day and was most impressive when seeing off Terrefort in his Gold Cup prep at Ascot over weekend. No Kauto Star or Denman but one of the leading contenders for chasing’s championship contest.

GIVE ME A COPPER – 7-1 favourite with bet365 for Ultima Handicap. Possible the best backed horse in any of the Cheltenham handicaps so far. Despite being a nine-year-old has had just the three starts over fences, the most recent being an eye-catching seasonal reappearance run when fourth at Sandown earlier this month. A mark of 145 looks fair enough and sure to go well.

SECRET INVESTOR – 14-1 with bet365 (nrnb) for Close Brothers Handicap. A Grade 2 winner over hurdles this season and has posted two decent efforts over fences, finishing second to Bags Groove and National Hunt Chase favourite OK Corral. Must have an each-way chance in an open race.

TOPOFTHEGAME – 6-1 with William Hill for RSA Chase. Fine second in the Coral Cup at last year’s festival since when has posted two excellent efforts over fences. Lost all of 20 lengths at the start on his chasing debut at Exeter but still managed to get within three and a half lengths of JLT favourite Defi Du Seuil. Failed by a lengths and a half to give top chasing mare La Bague Roi 7lb in Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase with RSA market leader Santini back in third. Big chance.

Best of the Rest

QUEL DESTIN – 12-1 with Coral for Triumph Hurdle/Fred Winter
POLITOLOGUE – 16-1 with William Hill for Ryanair
POSH TRISH – 10-1 with Ladbrokes for Mares’ Novice
MAGIC SAINT and DOLOS – 14-1 and 16-1 respectively for Grand Annual with William Hill
GRAND SANCY – 14-1 for Supremes Novices and 20-1 for County Hurdle with William Hill.
GETAWAY TRUMP – 20-1 with bet365 for Supreme Novices/County Hurdle
DANNY KIRWAN – 14-1 with Betvictor for Martin Pipe