Mon Parrain the Power play for Nicholls
Tuesday 08 November 2011
Cheltenham racecourse, it was announced yesterday, is to be one of the stop-off points for the Olympic torch next May, early in its 70-day, 8,000-mile journey round Britain from Land's End to London. Before that, of course, there will be plenty to light up the Gloucestershire track that has become synonymous with jump racing's best. And with the Flat season's international finale, the Breeders' Cup, now in the form book the focus here is firmly on those who may, even at this early stage, be identified as medal hopes for next year's Festival.
In the past 10 years more than 30 who scored at the early November fixture at Prestbury Park went on to win or make the podium the following March. Most notable among them has been Imperial Commander, who took the Ryanair Chase four months after winning the Paddy Power Gold Cup and progressed to a Gold Cup victory the following year. And of course, Long Run, only third in the two-and-a-half-miler last year, has since taken both the King George VI Chase and Gold Cup.
The Paddy Power Gold Cup is one of the few trophies not in Paul Nicholls' cabinet and, for him, it is surely a contest tinged not only with frustration but sadness. His four runners-up include Poliantas, who collapsed and died after crossing the line and Nicholls' Granit Jack broke his neck when falling two out, looking all over the winner, four years ago.
In Saturday's edition he fields the strong favourite Mon Parrain, for whom hopes this term are much higher than a Grade Three handicap, with Poquelin, runner-up two years ago, as wingman at the top of the handicap. The ex-French Mon Parrain was last seen in action in April, when second at Aintree after winning easily on his British debut, and in public last week, when he joined Kauto Star and Big Buck's for some awayday exercise at Exeter.
"He benefited enormously from that day out," reported Nicholls. "I'd been struggling to get him as fit as I would have liked at home. I rate him highly but he may have to have improved to win off his current mark. Generally, mine have not been well handicapped for this race and it's a hard one to win."
There is not much that Tony McCoy has not achieved, but yesterday's 2.15 at Southwell did provide him with one new experience when he partnered Larks Lad to the first walkover of his 20-year career. The Nicky Henderson-trained gelding was left to complete the formality of a 100-yard trot past the post to collect £2,800 in prize-money after his sole rival was withdrawn.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Cloudy Too (2.00 Sedgefield)
Well-regarded and has innate talent to win if he can put in a clear round.
Renard (3.10 Lingfield)
A high-mettled, free-going type who seemed to appreciate the drop back to two miles when winning last time.
One to watch
The chasing debut of The Engineer (Jessie Harrington) should be keenly anticipated if his warm-up bumper second to a horse who bolted up again on Friday is a guide.
Where the money's going
Pateese, at 8-1, is favourite in Paddy Power's list for Sunday's Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Latest in Sport
Arsenal and Puma unveil world's first left-footed football
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?
WWE Raw results: Brock Lesnar suspended for post-Wrestlemania 31 rampage after losing title to Seth Rollins
WrestleMania 31: The Undertaker begins a new streak after tombstoning Bray Wyatt
Louis van Gaal: Manchester United boss reveals that being a 'slow player' made him a better manager on warts and all documentary
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts
- 3 Martha Stewart accuses Snoop Dogg of 'smoking for four hours' during Justin Bieber Roast
- 4 Google April Fools': company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant
- 5 April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has 30 years of ex...
£27000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing cloud based I...
£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager...
£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding B2B exhibition and...