Paul Nicholls’ contenders

 

Notes on Paul Nicholls’ entries for The Festival 2015:

 

Horse Festival entries Rating Summary
NOVICE HURDLERS
All Yours WINTER Half-brother to last year’s Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle winner Lac Fontana; fell on hurdles debut at Ludlow on Nov 13 but impressed when taking a Taunton maiden hurdle (2m 1f) by 10 lengths in a first-time hood on Feb 5; no match for Beltor (beaten 5l) in G2 Adonis Juv Hurdle at Kempton Park on Feb 21
As De Mee PIPE 132 AQPS winner in France; recorded second victory over hurdles in nov contest (2m 4f+) at Leicester on Jan 28; other success came in nov hcap (2m+) at Sandown Park on Dec 5
Bouvreuil TRI, WINTER 133 Won once in seven starts over hurdles in France; third in a hcap (2m+) on British debut at Sandown Park on Jan 3 and fourth to Qewy in a nov hurdle (2m+) at Newbury on Feb 7
Great Try PIPE 125 Impressive nine-length winner of a Southwell bumper last season; placed in first two starts over hurdles at Aintree (2m 1f) and Newbury (2m+) before scoring by 2¼l at Bangor (2m 1f) on Feb 6
Morito Du Berlais PNF, PIPE 130 Improved for wind operation when winning nov hurdle (2m 7f+) at Exeter in Oct; doubled with a 1¼l victory in Michael Scudamore Intermediate Hcap Hurdle (2m 5f) at The Open on Nov 14; subsequently placed in hcaps at Haydock Park (Nov 22) and Newbury (Dec 29) but only fifth (beaten 6¾l) at Exeter on Feb 8
Old Guard TRI, WINTER 137 Flat winner for Roger Charlton, who scored on hurdling debut for Nicholls in a 2m juv hurdle at Newbury on Nov 28; PU in G1 Future Champions Finale Juv Hurdle at Chepstow over Christmas; runner-up (beaten 7l) to Pain Au Chocolat in juv contest at Sandown Park on Jan 31
Port Melon PIPE 132 Second season novice who has raced exclusively at G2 and G1 level; crashed through rails when going to post for the Albert Bartlett nov Hurdle at The Festival in 2014; third in two starts at Cheltenham since, most recently behind Blaklion (beaten 14½l) in G2 Albert Bartlett nov Hurdle (3m) on Dec 13
Qualando WINTER 131 Three runs at Auteuil for Emmanuel Clayeux; beaten a short-head on British debut in maiden hurdle (2m 1f) at Exeter on Jan 19; favourite when scoring by 1l in a 2m 3f nov hurdle at same track on Feb 20
Southfield Vic CORAL, PIPE 135 Recorded second win of the season when annexing 2m 6f hcap hurdle by 4½l at Wincanton on Feb 14; only seventh on hcap debut at Cheltenham (3m) on New Year’s Day; won nov hurdle (3m+) by 13l at Taunton on Dec 11
Vago Collonges SUP 139* Runner-up in G2 Aintree champion bumper in April 2013, but did not run again until this season; off the mark at third time of asking over hurdles in a nov event (2m 3f+) at Taunton on Jan 7; third (beaten 1½l) in G2 Neptune Investment Management Nov Hurdle (2m 4f+) on Jan 24; second (beaten 2¾l) behind Days Of Heaven in G2 Dovecote Nov Hurdle (2m) at Kempton Park on Feb 21
NOVICE CHASERS
Ceasar Milan CHAPS 138 Dual winner over hurdles; well-beaten sixth in a nov hcap chase (2m 6f+) at Newbury on Nov 27; made all when claiming scalp of Whisper in a 2m 3f+ beginners’ chase at Exeter on New Year’s Day; third (beaten 7¾l) behind Third Intention in a graduation chase (2m 4f+) at Kempton Park on Feb 6
Irish Saint JLT 150 G2-winning hurdler who has won three of five starts over fences, most recently taking G2 Pendil Nov Chase by 10l at Kempton Park on Feb 21; runner-up (beaten 8l) in G1 Scilly Isles Nov Chase (2m 4f+) at Sandown Park on Jan 31; won Ascot 2m 5f+ graduation chase by 13l on Dec 20
Keltus CHAPS 135 Fourth (beaten 3l) to Hawk High in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hcap Hurdle at The Festival in 2014; yet to win in three starts over fences but has been second twice, including last time behind (beaten 2l) Royal Regatta in 2m 1f limited nov handicap at Newbury on Nov 29
Ptit Zig JLT 159 G1-winning hurdler and sixth in last year’s Stan James Champion Hurdle at The Festival; unbeaten in first four starts over fences; took minor events at Exeter (2m 1f+) and Warwick (2m) in November before impressive G2 victories at Ascot (2m 3f, beat Josses Hill 9l) and Cheltenham (2m 5f, 6l); fell last time out in G1 Ascot Chase on Feb 14
Solar Impulse HEND 149 Winner in France and was seventh in last year’s Fred Winter Juvenile Hcap Hurdle at The Festival; won second start over fences in a nov hcap at Wetherby on Nov 1; second in three of four subsequent starts, including when beaten a head by Three Kingdoms in the G2 Lightning Nov Chase (2m) at Doncaster on Jan 24
Southfield Theatre RSA 154 Beaten a nose by Fingal Bay in the Pertemps Network Final at The Festival in 2014; won first two outings over fences, including G2 Rising Stars Nov Chase (2m 4f+) by 11l at Wincanton on Nov 8; beaten 1¼ by Carraig Mor in G2 over 3m at Newbury on Nov 27; back to winning ways in a nov chase (2m 3f+) at Exeter on Feb 8
Vibrato Valtat ARK 162 Revelation over fences this season with only defeat from five starts coming when second (beaten 1¾l) to Dunraven Storm in G2 Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Nov Chase (2m) at The Open in November; reversed form with that rival when coming out on top by 2l in G1 Henry VIII Nov Chase (2m) at Sandown Park on Dec 6; two more G2 wins, recently thrashing Top Gamble by 4½ at Warwick on Feb 7
Vivaldi Collonges NH 139 Won Ayr hcap hurdle (3m+) by 8l in April; fourth (beaten 15l) in Listed Ultima Business Solutions Hcap Hurdle (3m 1f+) at The Open in November; last behind Kings Palace in a pair of nov chases at Cheltenham (Dec 12, 3m 1f+) and Newbury (Feb 7, 3m)
Wilton Milan CHAPS 133* Dual winner over hurdles; sole victory in 11 starts over fences came when scoring by 13l in a 2m 2f+ hcap chase at Newbury on Nov 28; placed in four subsequent outings and last seen out when second (beaten 15l) to Leo Luna in 2m 6f nov chase at Fontwell on Feb 22
HURDLERS
Aux Ptits Soins CORAL, O’BRIEN 139 French import who is yet to run for new connections; won both starts over hurdles at Auteuil (Mar 9 & Sep 11) for Emmanuel Clayeux beating some smart rivals, notably subsequent Listed victor Song And Whisper and Arbre De Vie
Calipto CORAL, O’BRIEN 143 Rider’s stirrup broke when fourth in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival last year; beaten ½l by Tiger Roll on his comeback in Masterson Holdings Hurdle (2m+) at The Showcase in October; subsequently had a wind operation and was not seen again until the Betfair Hurdle (2m+) at Newbury on Feb 7; sent off favourite in first-time hood and stayed on to be fourth (beaten 13l)
Dormello Mo O’BRIEN, PIPE 135 Won two of six starts since moving to Nicholls from France; landed a juv hcap hurdle (2m+) at Sandown Park in March and a 2m 1f hcap hurdle by 5l at Exeter in Nov; last seen out when sixth of eight (beaten 15½l) in a Listed 2m+ hcap hurdle at Sandown Park on Dec 6
Far West PIPE 147 Runner-up to Our Conor in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival in 2013 and 21st in Coral Cup last year; has been chasing this season and scored at third attempt in 2m 1f nov hcap at Newbury on Dec 29; runner-up (beaten 2¼l) to Top Gamble in similar contest on Jan 14; last of four behind Sire De Grugy in 2m+ hcap chase at the weekend
Ibis Du Rheu WINTER 133 Half-brother to Saphir Du Rheu; won a 2m+ conditions hurdle by 7l at Enghien for Guillaume Macaire in April; last of six behind Peace And Co (beaten 30l) in a G2 on Festival Trials Day (Jan 24) and then fourth (beaten 11½) in hcap hurdle at Taunton on Feb 17
Irving O’BRIEN 157 Won first four starts over hurdles at around 2m last season, including a pair of G2 at Ascot and Kempton Park; ninth (beaten 11½l) in Sky Bet Supreme Nov Hurdle at The Festival in 2014; gave Nicholls his 100th G1 win when successful in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle (2m) at Newcastle on Nov 29; PU in G1 williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle on Dec 26 and only second (beaten 6l) to Blue Heron in G2 Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton on Feb 14
Katgary O’BRIEN, PIPE 132 Arguably unlucky when second (beaten ¾l) to Hawk High on his British debut in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hcap Hurdle at The Festival in 2014;  disappointing in three starts this season, including last tim sixth on his chase debut in a nov hcap chase (2m 4f+) at Kempton Park on Dec 26
Lac Fontana CORAL, O’BRIEN 151 Stayed on strongly to beat Arctic Fire by ½l in the Vincent O’Brien County Hcap Hurdle at The Festival last year; doubled up in G1 Mersey Nov Hurdle (2m 4f) at Aintree’s Crabbie’s Grand National Festival; third (beaten 8¾l) to Faugheen in G2 Coral Ascot Hurdle (2m 3f+) on Nov 22; has not run since coming home last of four (beaten 61l) in G2 Osborne House Relkeel Hurdle at The International on Dec 13
Le Mercurey CORAL, PIPE 144 Dual winner at Auteuil in 2013; seventh (beaten 37l) on British debut by L’Ami Serge in the Listed Gerry Feilden Hcap Hurdle at Newbury on Nov 27; stayed on to be third (beaten 6¼) in the G2 Holloway’s Hcap Hurdle (2m 3f+) at Ascot on Jan 17
Pearl Swan CORAL, PIPE 138 High-class 4yo hurdler in 2012, winning at Taunton and finishing first past the post in a G2 at Cheltenham; has only run three times since falling at the last when in contention in the JCB Triumph Hurdle in 2012; last seen out when PU in the StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle at The Open on Nov 16
Saphir Du Rheu WORLD 165 One of the most improved horses in training last season; won Lanzarote (2m 5f) Hcap Hurdle by six lengths and beat subsequent G1 victor Whisper by a head in the Welsh Champion Hurdle (2m 4f); reverted back to hurdles after failing to complete in two of three starts over fences this season and stayed on gamely to beat Reve De Sivola by a head in the G2 galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle (3m) at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day (Jan 24)
Silsol

 

 

 

Zarkandar

CORAL

 

 

 

WORLD

158

 

 

 

160

Rounded off last season with victories in a hcap hurdle (2m 4f) at Ayr and a nov hurdle (2m 6f) at Newton Abbot; captured valuable hcap hurdle at Newbury (2m 3f) on comeback on Nov 29; fifth at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day but bounced back to win Welsh Champion Hurdle (2m 4f) by 5l at Ffos Las on Jan 31; beaten 2¾l into second by Kilcooley in G2 National Spirit Hurdle (2m 4f) at Fontwell on Feb 22.

Set to make fifth appearance at The Festival; won 2011 JCB Triumph Hurdle; fifth in 2012 Stan James Champion Hurdle; fourth in same race in 2013; stepped up in trip for Ladbrokes World Hurdle last year, finishing fourth; won G1 Grand Prix D’Automn at Auteuil in Nov, beating France’s best staying hurdler Gemix by five lengths; last seen out when neck runner in G1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on Dec 20

CHASERS
Black Thunder ULTIMA 155 Has fallen on to previous visits to The Festival, including in the 2014 RSA Chase; G2 winner over fences as a novice (3m Lingfield Park) in Dec 2013; 11l scorer of Sandown Park intermediate chase (2m+) on Dec 5; fifth on latest start in G2 BetBright Cup Chase (3f 1f+) at Cheltenham on Jan 24
Caid Du Berlais RYAN, BROWN 151 Runner-up in 2013 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle & third in 2014 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle; beat Johns Spirit by a head to take G3 Paddy Power Gold Cup (2m 4f+) at Cheltenham on Nov 15;  third on latest appearance in G3 Betbright Best For Festival Betting Handicap Chase (2m 5f) at Cheltenham on Jan 1
Cowards Close ULTIMA, WALWYN 129 Facile victor of Taunton nov chase (2m 7f+) in April; third in G3 Majordomo Hospitality Handicap Chase (3m 2f) at Cheltenham on Dec 12; 2¼l winner of 3m+ Royal Artillery Gold Cup at Sandown Park on Feb 13
Dodging Bullets

(pictured top)

QM 171 Fourth in 2012 JCB Triumph Hurdle; ninth in 2013 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle; fourth (beaten 5l) in 2014 Racing Post Arkle Chase; Successful in G1 company on latest two starts, taking Tingle Creek Chase (2m) by 2½l at Sandown Park on Dec 6 and beating Sprinter Sacre by 3l in Ascot’s Clarence House Chase (2m 1f) on Jan 17
Easter Day ULTIMA, BROWN, WALWYN 142* PU early on in G3 BetBright Chase (3m) at Kempton Park on Feb 21; Fell when travelling well in G3 Freebets.com Trophy Chase (2m 5f) at Cheltenham on Jan 24; dual winner over fences last season, headed by 2¼l defeat of subsequent RSA Chase scorer O’Faolains Boy in Ascot graduation chase (2m 5f+) in Dec 2013
Hinterland QM 160 UR in Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at The Festival in 2014 (second season novice at time); game neck winner of G1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase (2m) at Sandown Park in Dec 2013 – second in same race 12 months earlier; close third to Dodging Bullets in G1 Tingle Creek Chase over same course & distance on Dec 6; PU on latest start in G2 Desert Orchid Chase (2m) at Kempton Park on Dec 27
Just A Par WALWYN 140 Seventh in RSA Chase at The Festival in 2014; convincing winner of G2 nov chase (3m) at Newbury in Nov 2013; 9l runner-up in 3m grad chase at Exeter on Feb 8
Mon Parrain ULTIMA 148 Dual hcap chase winner at Cheltenham, including 1l success over Our Father on latest outing in 3m 2f+ contest on Jan 1
Mr Mole QM 165 Fell at last (beaten at time) in 2014 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase; reformed character since, winning all four subsequent starts; twice beat Brick Red by 2¼l in Exeter grad chase (2m 1f+) on Dec 18 & Sandown Park hcap chase (2m) on Jan 3; left at start but still posted 13l success in G2 Game Spirit Chase at Newbury on Feb 7; yet to run in G1 company
Rolling Aces ULTIMA, BROWN 154 Successful in G2 nov chase (2m 4f) at Down Royal in Nov 2013; runner-up (beaten 3¼l by Boston Bob) in G1 Melling Chase (2m 4f) at Aintree in April 2014; fourth on latest start in G3 Betbright Best For Festival Betting Handicap Chase (2m 5f) at Cheltenham on Jan 1
Ruben Cotter BROWN 135 Not seen since finishing third in Newbury handicap chase (2m 6f+) in Nov 2013; 8l winner of 3m 2f nov chase at Doncaster in Feb 2013
Sam Winner GOLD 162 Fourth in 2011 JCB Triumph Hurdle & fifth in 2014 RSA Chase; scored by 1½l off top-weight in G3 Murphy Group Handicap Chase (3m 3f+) at Cheltenham on Nov 15; made all to take 3m 1f Listed chase at Aintree on Dec 6; third behind Road To Riches & On His Own in G1 Lexus Chase (3m) at Leopardstown on Dec 28
Silviniaco Conti GOLD 174 Five-time G1 winner including two wins in both King George VI Chase (3m) at Kempton (2013 & 2014)  & Haydock Park’s Betfair Chase (3m) (2012 & 2014); fell three fences out (still travelling well) in 2013 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup & headed after last when close fourth (beaten 1¾l by Lord Windermere) in same race last year
Sire Collonges GXC 145 Last 11 starts have all been at Cheltenham, including game ½l success in Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (3m 7f) in December 2013; 3rd over same course and distance Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase on Nov 14
Valco De Touzaine BROWN 135 Gained pair of wins over fences last season, including 12l success in Wetherby nov hcap chase (2m) in Nov 2013; third in G2 nov chase (2m) at Warwick in Feb 2014; last of six on latest outing in 2m hcap chase at Ludlow on Dec 14
Wonderful Charm RYAN

 

 

 

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Nov G2 winner over fences & hurdles; eighth in 2013 Ladbrokes World Hurdle & fifth (beaten 9¼l) in 2014 JLT Novices’ Chase; successful in Newton Abbot intermediate chase (2m 5f+) on October 10; second in 2m 4f G2 chase at Down Royal on Nov 1; close third in G2 Betfred Peterborough Chase (2m 4f+) at Huntingdon on Dec 7; seventh in G1 King George VI Chase (3m) at Kempton Park on Dec 26

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