Paul Nicholls Stable Tour: Five to follow and dark horses for 2020/21 season

Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls
Paul Nicholls runs us through is five to follow and his dark horses to watch

Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls runs us through his five horses to follow this season, and some of their big-race targets, before telling us his five dark horses to watch out for...

"I can't wait to get him started over fences and we'll make a plan once he has run at Market Rasen. He has a big future."

Paul Nichols on Pic D'Orhy

Listen to the stable tour podcast here, and read below for Paul's in-depth thoughts

Clan is in top order at home, as big and strong as he has ever looked, and I'm preparing to take him first to the Betfair Chase at Haydock on November 21 and have him really ready. Two years ago he just needed it a bit in the Betfair, ran a cracker, came on for the outing and then won the King George at Kempton.

The flat track at Haydock suits him so well and I am not going there this time thinking of it as a prep race for Kempton. He will be sharper than two years ago, fit enough to do himself justice and is good enough to win.

Then it is on to Kempton trying to land the hat-trick in the King George which is obviously the main focus for him this season. Whatever happens Clan will not be going back to Cheltenham for the Gold Cup.

We will not be tempted even if he wins his first two starts and is on course for the £1 million bonus.

There are other options in the second half of the campaign, maybe at Aintree, and I'd love to take him to the Punchestown Gold Cup if the meeting is on and we are able to travel to Eire.

I am thinking of starting him off at Down Royal in the Grade 1 JNWine Champion Chase on October 31 when he will be ready to run for his life. I want to find out before the King George if he truly gets three miles and the Irish race should give me the answer. If he wins or runs really well then we have plenty of time to freshen him up for Kempton.

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Cyrname did an awesome bit of work at Wincanton a week before he beat Altior at Ascot in November but our horse had a seriously hard race which maybe left its mark at Kempton where he couldn't lay a glove on Clan Des Obeaux. He then fell heavily on his return to Ascot in February on testing ground but he was working well again and would have run in April until all racing was called off.

I'm pleased to say Cyrname looks tremendous. He is more relaxed now which means we can do a little bit more with him at home. I couldn't be happier with him and if he shows he doesn't stay three miles at Down Royal then I'll drop him back to two-and-a-half miles.

We bought him from France to be a chaser and that is what he will be doing this winter, possibly starting in a novice Chase at Market Rasen, ground permitting, on October 17, a race we've won in the past with Dynamite Dollars and Azertyuiop. He looks great and put up a classy performance when winning a competitive Betfair Hurdle at Newbury in February.

Pic D'Orhy is a big horse, schools nicely and has bags of scope but he can jump the odd fence like a hurdler and needs to respect his fences as he gains experience.

He is a proper horse, an exciting prospect who is going the right way and has grown up.

I can't wait to get him started over fences and we'll make a plan once he has run at Market Rasen. He has a big future.

It is highly likely this smart mare will be going chasing this season but I need to talk to her owner Colm Donlan before making long term plans. She can easily jump fences but we might start her off first in a good hurdle race. There are some decent mares races over hurdles and fences but she would also be very effective against the geldings as well.

Silver Forever is in good shape, coming on nicely and should be ready to run in a month's time. She is a winning pointer, jumps very well, won a Listed race at Sandown in January and after a very minor setback was being prepared for a spring campaign when racing came to a half.

He ended the season with a brilliant success in the EBF Final at Kempton and I will be training him with the Stayers' Hurdle in mind at Cheltenham in March.

McFabulous will start off in the Persian War Hurdle at Chepstow on October 9 if the ground is all right and under a new rule brought in this year because of Covid he remains a novice until December 1 which gives us more options for him. Even so, next race I am considering for McFabulous is the Grade 2 long distance hurdle at Newbury on what was Hennessy weekend.

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His jumping was ordinary at the start of last season but it improved a great deal with experience as he matured and he is very slick over his hurdles now. I do think a lot of McFabulous who won three bumpers in his first season before going on to win a highly competitive EBF Final in style in March.

My five dark horses to watch

Monmiral

He made a deeply impressive winning debut in a three-year-old hurdle at Auteuil in March. Monmiral joined us in July and is a lovely big horse with plenty of scope and will be running in juvenile hurdles this season. He is the type rather like Solo and Clan Des Obeaux that is going to make a serious chaser one day.

Hell Red

He finished second to Monmiral at Auteuil, beaten two and a half lengths, and is a totally different type, sharper and racier, is ready to go and makes his debut for us at Chepstow's first meeting at the end of next week. I could see him making an immediate impact.

Stormy Ireland

Is one of a dozen or more nice horses sent to me this summer by Jarred Sullivan. She did very well last season for Willie Mullins, winning three times in the mud before finishing fifth in the Mares' hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Stormy Ireland has a rating of 153 and could be one to follow over fences this winter. While she is not the biggest she jumps well at home and is due to make her debut for us in a novice Chase at Newton Abbot on October 11 when she will get a handy 7lbs allowance from the geldings.

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Pozo Emery

He is a promising recruit for Andy Stewart and his family and showed plenty of promise when finishing second in his only Point-to-Point in Ireland in March. We really like what Pozo Emery is showing us at home and he will be campaigned over two and a half miles over hurdles.

Whiskey Lullaby

Another interesting recruit from Ireland, Whiskey Lullaby is a half sister to the smart Petit Robin and finished second on her only start in a Point-to-Point in October. She made her debut for us at Newbury late in February in the colours of Highclere Thoroughbreds and went into plenty of notebooks after coming from the rear to be beaten three quarters of a length by the highly rated Gran Luna. Whiskey Lullaby is a big, scopey mare very much in the mould of Silver Forever when she began over hurdles.

Kempton 26th Dec (King George VI Chase)

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Saturday 26 December, 3.00pm

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