‘Famous five’ at Ascot as Nicholls sends out eight winners nationwide

Day to remember for Ditcheat maestro

  • Saturday 16 February
  • News
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Paul Nicholls dominated proceedings at Ascot, saddling a five-timer on a day when he claimed eight winners nationwide.

With stable stars Cyrname and Clan Des Obeaux doing the business in the Ascot and Denman Chases respectively, some of the Ditcheat lesser lights also did their bit as the Nicholls team – according to the trainer himself – exceeded its own previous daily best.

Brio Conti could make his next appearance at the top table after surviving a stewards’ inquiry to kickstart the winning spree with 25-1 surprise in the Ascot Supports Berkshire Community Foundation Handicap Hurdle.

Nicholls said: “I knew the horses were really well and I knew they would run really well. It has been an amazing day.”

The trainer admitted Brio Conti’s win was unexpected, adding: “He has surprised me, because I thought he needed a run and he is still as big as a bull.

“He was just not ready the other day. It was heavy ground at Sandown, but I couldn’t do any more with him at home. He has come on for that, and he will come on for that today. Where this leads, I don’t know.

“I thought he would finish in the middle today, come down 5lb and run in the Coral Cup – but we could go for the Aintree Hurdle.

“We’ve always thought of him being good, but we have not been able to get there really.”

Worthy Farm (5-1) proved half a length superior to his rivals in the Best Racing On Racing TV Handicap Hurdle, while Silver Forever (2-1 favourite) claimed the closing British EBF Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Wincanton wins for Grand Sancy and Magic Saint, plus Haydock glory for odds-on Quel Destin made sure of an afternoon to remember for Nicholls.

He said: “We’ve had seven in one day before, but we’ve never had eight in a day. We’ve had five here, and it has been a brilliant day.

“We are always trying to do what is right for the horses and get the right results. Seeing what Cyrname did today, I would have to say was one of the performances of the season.

“If he had run against Altior here at the last meeting, it would have been really interesting. Today proved how good we thought he might be.

“The highlight of the day was Clan, who is going for the Gold Cup – and for him to go round and do that is just awesome.”

Colin Tizzard is facing a Cheltenham Festival dilemma with Mister Malarky following his game success in the Sodexo Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase.

After brushing aside his opponents at Newbury last time out, the six-year-old made it three from four over fences when holding off the late rally of Now McGinty by a length and a half in the Grade Two prize.

Tizzard said of the 7-2 winner: “He is entered at Cheltenham in the RSA and he will be entered in the four-miler.

“Without being critical of the horse, he might be one gear short to keep up in the RSA. We had the same discussion with Native River, and he ran in the four-miler – but he was not a bad three-miler after that!

“He would go to either race with a similar chance.”

Dashel Drasher is another that could be set for a trip to Aintree in April after holding on by a short-head in the Thames Materials Novices’ Hurdle to give winning jockey Kieron Edgar his first winner of 2019.

Trainer Jeremy Scott said of the 7-1 winner: “I don’t think he will go to Cheltenham, but we will keep the entry. I would rather run him at Aintree, because it is slightly less competitive.”

The Venetia Williams-trained Calipto (15-2) found plenty when required to bounce back to winning ways and claim the Listed Keltbray Swinley Chase by two and a quarter lengths.

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