Nicholls bullish about Bravemansgame ahead of Betfair Chase

By Sports Desk November 24, 2023

Paul Nicholls’ Bravemansgame headlines a small but classy field for the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday.

The eight-year-old was second in the Gold Cup last season and made his comeback this term in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby.

He was beaten by Mouse Morris’ Gentlemansgame in West Yorkshire but Nicholls considers him to have come on considerably for that run, as he begins to tread a path back to the Gold Cup via this contest and the King George.

“He took a large step forward for that run, he hadn’t been for a racecourse gallop or anything and I hadn’t drilled him or anything for that particular race because we knew there’d be bigger targets down the road,” Nicholls said.

“He has come on for that run enormously, he looks great and he’s feeling really good.

“He’s high class and should be the favourite really, it’s just that we were a bit negative and we weren’t sure we were going to go there.

“Bryan (Drew), who owns him, was quite keen for him to run – that’s one reason – and he has come out of that race very, very well.

“He will take a step forward for that race the other day. He’s that much older now, we’ve still got a month to Kempton and it’s a valuable race.”

The bay has been ridden in all 18 starts under rules so far by Harry Cobden, but the Ditcheat stable jockey is required to head to Ascot instead and Daryl Jacob steps in the for the ride at Haydock.

“Harry is going to Ascot to ride Pic D’Orhy, who had such a good season last year, from which I hope he’s improved further,” Nicholls said.

“The bottom line is that Harry can’t be in two places at the same time.

“When there is more than one big meeting on a Saturday, you have to plan, but you also need someone to be first reserve and Daryl has been riding out for us.”

Dan Skelton will be represented by Protektorat, the reigning Betfair Chase champion after landing the race by 11 lengths last season.

He was subsequently fourth in the Cotswold Chase and fifth in the Gold Cup and now returns for his seasonal debut with freshness on his side.

“It gives you great confidence when a horse has been there and done it because you can do what you did the year before,” the trainer said.

“We know the result we got and if he runs like he did last year, which was visually very impressive, whoever beats him will have a hard race to do so.

“OK, his form after wasn’t as sparkling but we can put that to one side at the moment because we are dealing with first time and we know what he did first time last year.

“Freshness is key with any horse. I know people want to see these horses run more but the truth of the matter is these horses have hard races in big races. It’s not the getting ready for the next race, it’s getting over the one they’ve just had.

“Of course, I’d love to run him more, like I would a lot of others, but you can’t waste runs when you think they might not be at their best. You also have to consider the idiosyncrasies of British courses.

“You want to run them on ones they will be at their best, unless you get a horse like Kauto Star who can do it on all of them and then it’s magical. We’d all love to run them more but it is hard to get them razor right.”

Lucinda Russell runs last season’s Grand National hero Corach Rambler, who makes his Grade One debut at Haydock.

After winning the Aintree marathon by two and a quarter lengths in the spring, the nine-year-old returned to action in Kelso’s Edinburgh Gin Chase in late October but was well beaten when fifth of six runners.

Russell reports her stable star to be in good form at home following the run, however, and hopes his performance in the Betfair Chase will prove instructive as to where he will head next.

The William Hill ambassador said: “Corach Rambler is in absolutely fantastic form at home and has been causing absolute mayhem around the place! He’s galloping around the farm in a very happy manner and upsetting the whole string, which is really encouraging ahead of Haydock on Saturday.

“I must admit that I do wake up in the middle of the night panicking about him because he really does mean that much to me. He’s very special and it’s a pleasure to be involved with him and be a part of his journey.

“The ground at Kelso was pretty bad and he obviously didn’t have a great run there, so the fact it will be better on Saturday is a real bonus.

“We’re under no illusions that it’s going to be a big challenge against some proper Gold Cup contenders, but I think he’s earned his chance to prove that he’s up to this sort of standard and we’re really looking forward to it.

“It will tell us where we stand with him and whether the Gold Cup is a realistic aim.”

Completing the field of four is Venetia Williams’ Royale Pagaille, second in the contest behind A Plus Tard in 2021.

The nine-year-old has a notably good Haydock record, as three further runs at the track have all ended in victory, though he was a faller in the Irish Grand National when last seen in April and looks to return to form at his favoured track.

Joe Chambers, racing manager to owners Rich and Susannah Ricci, said: “Royale Pagaille loves it at Haydock and with the ground in his favour and a small field, we thought it would be best to kick off his season there on Saturday, rather than going to Newbury the following week.

“He is three out of four at Haydock, with his only defeat coming when second in the Betfair Chase two years ago to A Plus Tard.

“I’d say this season it would be lovely to win a third Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock (in January) with him. What happens either side of that is still to be decided.”

Related items

  • Newbury meeting given green light Newbury meeting given green light

    Newbury’s BetVictor Greatwood Gold Cup meeting was given the green light following a second morning inspection at the Berkshire circuit.

    While Friday’s six-race card took place in its entirety, conditions worsened throughout the day and with further rain forecast, an initial precautionary check was announced for 8am.

    The course was found to be waterlogged in places early on Saturday morning, but officials were keen to give the fixture every chance and the track was passed fit to race shortly before a second planned inspection time of 10am.

    Saturday’s Navan card, featuring the Grade Three Flyingbolt Novice Chase and the Grade Two BoyleSports Webster Cup, will also go ahead as scheduled after the course passed a a 7.30am inspection.

    IHRB clerk of the course Paddy Graffin said: “I’m pleased to say that the track at Navan is fit for racing and has passed our inspection here this morning.

    “The team here at Navan have done an outstanding job on the track and there is no longer any standing water. The ground remains heavy, and will be testing, but racing goes ahead.”

    Leopardstown’s meeting on Sunday came through an initial Saturday morning inspection, but a further check has been announced for 3pm this afternoon.

    “The track at Leopardstown remains unfit for racing at present due to snow still lying in some areas,” said clerk of the course Lorcan Wyer.

    “However, there has been improvement since yesterday and further thaw is expected today so will have a further inspection at 3pm this afternoon.”

  • Second inspection called at Newbury Second inspection called at Newbury

    This afternoon’s BetVictor Greatwood Gold Cup meeting at Newbury is subject to a second course inspection at 10am.

    While Friday’s six-race card took place in its entirety, conditions worsened throughout the day and with further rain forecast, an initial precautionary check was announced for 8am.

    The Berkshire circuit was found to be waterlogged in places early on Saturday morning, but officials are keen to give the fixture every chance and will look again later in the morning.

    Saturday’s Navan card, featuring the Grade Three Flyingbolt Novice Chase and the Grade Two BoyleSports Webster Cup, will go ahead as scheduled after the course passed a a 7.30am inspection.

    IHRB clerk of the course Paddy Graffin said: “I’m pleased to say that the track at Navan is fit for racing and has passed our inspection here this morning.

    “The team here at Navan have done an outstanding job on the track and there is no longer any standing water. The ground remains heavy, and will be testing, but racing goes ahead.”

    Leopardstown’s meeting on Sunday has come through an initial Saturday morning inspection, but a further check has been announced for 3pm this afternoon.

    “The track at Leopardstown remains unfit for racing at present due to snow still lying in some areas,” said clerk of the course Lorcan Wyer.

    “However, there has been improvement since yesterday and further thaw is expected today so will have a further inspection at 3pm this afternoon.”

  • Newbury call precautionary check for Saturday card Newbury call precautionary check for Saturday card

    The prospect of further rain has prompted officials at Newbury to announce a precautionary inspection ahead of Saturday’s BetVictor Greatwood Gold Cup meeting.

    While Friday’s six-race card at the Berkshire track took place in its entirety, conditions worsened throughout the day and a further seven to 12 millimetres of rain is forecast from early Saturday morning into the afternoon.

    A precautionary check will be held at 8am to ensure the racing surface remains safe enough for day two of the meeting to go ahead.

    Saturday’s Navan card, due to feature the Grade Three Flyingbolt Novice Chase and the Grade Two BoyleSports Webster Cup, is also under threat, with an inspection called for 7.30am, while Sunday’s meeting at Leopardstown is subject to an 8am inspection on Saturday.

    Lorcan Wyer, IHRB clerk of the course at Leopardstown said: “Following a further 13mm of precipitation which has fallen as snow since 8am this (Friday) morning, Leopardstown is currently unfit for racing as the track is covered in snow.

    “Temperatures are currently rising and the snow is already starting to thaw and is turning to rain with bright spells and temperatures of seven degrees forecast for Saturday.

    “With the current situation we feel it is prudent to call an 8am inspection to determine the prospects for the fixture scheduled to take place on Sunday.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.