Paul Nicholls at Cheltenham: The exclusive verdict on my 13 day four runners

It's a busy afternoon for Paul Nicholls who saddles 13 runners on Gold Cup day at Cheltenham, including Pacha Du Polder (pictured)
It's a busy afternoon for Paul Nicholls who saddles 13 runners on Gold Cup day at Cheltenham, including Pacha Du Polder (pictured)
  • vs

Paul sends out a huge team in search of final day silverware at Cheltenham but, arguably, few will command more attention than Victoria Pendleton's mount Pacha Du Polder. Get Paul's exclusive thoughts on the full team here...

"I did wonder for a few days if Zubayr had too hard a race at Kempton which might have knocked the edge off him. But he has turned inside out in the past couple of weeks, is in sparkling form at home, and I've been thrilled with his schooling sessions."

13:30 - Five Runners

Zubayr

Is the fifth of our runners in the Triumph and the one my head lad Clifford Baker thinks could be very special as a hurdler and the best of them at this stage.

I did wonder for a few days if Zubayr had too hard a race at Kempton which might have knocked the edge off him. But he has turned inside out in the past couple of weeks, is in sparkling form at home, and I've been thrilled with his schooling sessions.

He does have to overcome inexperience as this will be a bit different to taking on eight runners at Kempton.

But I am hopeful that he emulate Zarkandar who won the Adonis in the way to landing the Triumph Hurdle.


Connetable

Is a tough customer who will be ideally suited by a fast run race that you usually get in the Triumph. I'm putting some cheekpieces on Connetable for the first time to try to make him concentrate better as he has been a bit idle at home and in his races.

The form of his excellent victory at Sandown has been well franked and Sam was keen to ride him, but I do wonder if the ground might just have gone against Connetable.


Tommy Silver

We have booked the young Irish jockey Johnny Burke for Tommy Silver who is more of a speedier flat racehorse and will relish the drying ground.

He booked his ticket for the Triumph by winning impressively at Musselburgh, and showed he is in good order by working nicely on Saturday with Diego Du Charmil, winner of the Fred Winter on Wednesday.


Clan Des Obeaux

A gorgeous looking horse who will make an awesome chaser. Has looked very smart in two races over hurdles for us on heavy going, but I am encouraged that he won his bumper in France on fast ground.

Clan Des Obeaux is not short of speed, jumps really well and has more than earned his place in the line up here.


Frodon

Is a better horse than he has been given credit for since his well earned victory at Haydock. We thought he would beat the hot favourite there and he won fair and square.

Frodon is a really sharp hurdling sort and had run very well on his debut for us when he was a gallop or two short of peak fitness.

I think he is sure to run with credit here.


14:10 - Three Runners

All Yours

Was fifth in the Fred Winter a year ago despite being murdered wherever he went through the race and then won a Grade 1 Hurdle stylishly at Aintree.

Good ground is the key to All Yours. He will relish conditions at Cheltenham, a mark of 147 for a Grade 1 winner is fair and you can put a line through his only run this season in the mud.


Modus

Is the pick of Nick Scholfield who loves this horse and has done all the schooling on him.

A fast run race on this drier ground should be just the ticket for Modus who has been progressive all season until he got stuck in the mud in the Betfair Hurdle.

Modus stays well and has the right profile for the County Hurdle as you basically need a two-and-a-half mile horse who is sure to get the trip.


Some Plan

Has run two solid races for us when ground conditions have been against him. We've been waiting to run him on good ground and Harry Cobden's 5lbs claim is a big help in a tough handicap like this.

Some Plan definitely has a chance.


16:10 - Pacha Du Polder

Will be the centre of attention with his jockey Victoria Pendleton after their memorable success from the front at Wincanton early this month.

This is a much tougher examination for such an inexperienced jockey and I will be advising Victoria to ride Pacha Du Polder with restraint this time to help him get the trip rather than bowl along in front.

So she will be taking her time, riding a bit of a waiting race before hopefully having a nice clear round before keeping on to finish on the heels of the placed horses. That would be an awesome result.

Victoria has improved enormously in the saddle and has done a lot of work at home on this horse. It also helps that as a dual Olympic Gold medallist she has shown she is more than capable of dealing with the pressure heading into this race.

Good luck to her.


16:50 - Three Runners

Qualando

Won the Fred Winter a year ago at the Festival and returns in very good shape for this race over an extra half mile which has been the target for a while.

Qualando bounced back to form at Taunton last time after a couple of dire runs through the winter and is again ridden by Harry Cobden who got to know him at the Somerset track.

We've given Qualando time, he usually comes good in the spring and better ground will definitely bring out improvement in him.


Ibis Du Rheu

Has been a little disappointing this season and didn't get three miles last time at Sandown in very testing ground, but I haven't given up on him and this trip could be ideal.

Ibis Du Rheu is a very capable horse who is going to click one day and will be ridden here by Jack Sherwood who deserves a bit of luck after missing a fair bit of the season through injury.


Mr Mix

His form is very good. He won with his head in his chest at Taunton in heavy ground in January, then took a big step forward by finishing a close second to the more experienced Yala Enki at Ascot with the smart chaser Aloomomo behind him.

I loved the way Mr Mix travelled and jumped at Ascot before keeping on strongly on the flat. He has more than earned his chance here.


17:30 - Solar Impulse

Is handicapped to the hilt and has a tough task here even though he has finally been dropped a pound or two.

You could make a case for Solar Impulse on some of his form last season but it has been a struggle for him this winter. I've put the blinkers on to try to sharpen up his jumping which has not been great but he is running more in hope than expectation.


Cheltenham Offer: Back a 3/1 winner and get a FREE bet

Back any winner at 3/1 or higher on days two, three and four at Cheltenham and we'll give you a free bet to the same value as your stake, up to £/€25. Sportsbook bets only, T&Cs apply.

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open your account today using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn - £/€20 Back in cash if your bet loses
Bet Now

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles