Paul Nicholls Potential Stable Stars for the New Jumps Season
October 31, 2011 Leave a comment
While he will almost certainly strengthen his Ditcheat yard even further after visiting Autueil for the sales during this month, Paul Nicholls has already begun his renaissance knowing that at least two of his ‘major’ stars, Kauto Star and Denman will be retiring at the end of this season.
In fact over the summer Nicholls has taken on 40 newcomers from England, France and Ireland and is also very pleased with three very exciting 3YOs, who will start their training forthwith. Nicholls has also taken on six good looking horses from Graham Wylie who can no longer rely on the stable of Howard Johnson.
With Kauto Star and Denman no longer the stable superstars, horse like Big Bucks and possibly Master Minded will hog the Ditcheat headlines this season. As it stands currently they will both be aimed at Cheltenham, with Big Bucks taking an identical route as he did in 2010 with the aim of winning the Stayers Hurdle for a record breaking fourth time. Master Minded on the other hand will be aimed at the longer trip with King George on Boxing Day being his first major target; his future will only be decided after that run.
There are a number of newcomers that punters will need to keep in their notebooks, particularly some of the younger ‘brigade’ who will be beginning their racing careers in Bumpers and Novice Hurdles. Below is a shortlist of five newcomers or others who are expected to be finding the winning enclosure this season:
Owned by Graham Wylie, this eight year old has a rating of around the 150 mark, but according to Nicholls it will get very much higher than that. It will be remembered that it was this horse who turned over Zaynar in the Victor Chandler Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso last February when Zaynar went off as the 1/14 odds on favourite. Quwetwo is potentially a top quality staying hurdler and might be seen against Big Bucks later on in the season.
Only five years old but big things are expected by this half brother to Kauto Star, who won France’s biggest steeplechase for 4 year olds last season. Nichols has managed to sell him to owner Robin Geffen, owner of Arctic Cosmos who won the 2010 St Leger. Nicholls has made no hard and fast plans yet but has confirmed that at this stage in his career he looks every bit as good as his legendary half brother.
Despite plenty of indifferent form last season, the stable has plenty of confidence about Sanctuaire going on to big things this term. Winner of the Grade 2 Scottish Champion Hurdle in April and the Grade 3 Fred Winter Juvenile Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2010, the five year old will be aimed at the Champion Hurdle in March but is expected to take his seasonal bow in November.
Trainer Evan Williams thought that this five year old gelding was good enough to be pitched into Grade Two company on his debut in England last year after a successful juvenile career in France. In the event he had to settle for fifth place behind the highly talented Menorah in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham last December. He was then seen in the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle over 3 miles in January, also at Cheltenham where he ran with credit finishing seventh behind the brilliant Grands Crus. Now under the ‘wing of Nicholls’ it can be expected that this Robin Geffen owned youngster will flourish in the coming months.
Another arrival from the Wylie stock this five year old has plenty of speed, winning three times from four runs on the flat and he has already taken to hurdling with some aplomb. He has won twice thus far, including last time out in a Handicap Hurdle at Sedgefield in April. He will continue over the smaller obstacles for the time being but looks like an excellent longer term prospect over fences.