Paul Nicholls: champion trainer has his squad in stunning form
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Tom Kerr 11:36PM 22 OCT 2016
CHAMPION trainer Paul Nicholls will be hoping that his awesome October continues on Saturday when he saddles four runners at Cheltenham, including Grade 1 winner Adrien Du Pont, who makes his reappearance in the Masterson Holdings Hurdle (3.00).
Nicholls, who saddled a hat-trick at Cheltenham on Friday to take his October tally to 24 and his seasonal total to 50 winners, also runs Keltus in the opening 3m1f handicap chase (1.50), chasing debutant Qualando in the 2m4f novices’ chase and Brahms De Clermont in the concluding bumper.
Despite Nicholls being in stunning form, his runners have met with opposition in the market. Adrien Du Pont created a fantastic impression during his juvenile campaign, the highlight being his success in the Finale Hurdle at Chepstow, but can be backed at 9-4 having been a top price of 6-4 overnight.
Regarding his prospects, Nicholls said: “He has to give weight away to several of his rivals which isn’t ideal, but it’s a starting point.”
One of those rivals in receipt of 8lb from Adrien Du Pont is Alan King’s Gibralfaro, who has been backed into 9-4 from 3-1 and is challenging for favouritism.
‘Step up in class’
Nicholls will be hoping to get off to a flying start with Keltus in the opening £50,000 handicap chase.
The six-year-old grey, who remains unexposed as a staying chaser, won over three miles at Fakenham eight days ago and Nicholls said of his prospects: “He won a small race at Fakenham last time, and this represents a step up in class.
“He’s fit, fresh and well, and it will probably be his last run before his winter break.”
The ground at Cheltenham is good, which will be in the favour of Keltus, who can be backed at 8-1.
In addition to his four runners at Cheltenham, Nicholls also sends two to Kelso and as such it is plausible that he could surpass his highest monthly tally of winners in the past five years.
Nicholls sent out 28 winners in November 2014 and April 2016, though those totals were achieved from 90 and 116 runners. His 24 so far in October have come from just 49 runners at a near-50 per cent strike-rate.
He is no bigger than 1-3 with bet365 to win his 11th trainers’ title.