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
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.
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.
It's an imperious win for Clan Des Obeaux in the Betfair Denman Chase at @Ascot— ITV Racing (@itvracing) February 16, 2019
A record 9th win for @PFNicholls in this contest!
How much of a threat is he in the Gold Cup in four weeks time?
Watch LIVE on @ITV4 pic.twitter.com/hp0v0NV75Z
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.
Full replay and reaction: "We can pretty much aim her anywhere" says Warren Greatrex as La Bague Au Roi takes the honours in Kauto Star Novices' Chase >>> https://t.co/vKirYah5bx pic.twitter.com/mwT0cTXilp— Racing TV (@RacingTV) December 26, 2018
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