Paul Nicholls - the new recruits
Paul Nicholls - the new recruits

Jumps season preview: Paul Nicholls dark horses

Mark Howard's jumps season series continues with a look at some of the new recruits to the champion trainer's team for the new campaign.

'Nicholls has returned to the same source'

Bravemansgame, Hermes Allen and Tahmuras provided the fourteen times champion trainer with half of his six domestic Grade 1 winners last winter. That trio began their careers between the flags in Ireland and Paul Nicholls has returned to the same source in his quest to unearth his next superstar. These include the once raced CAPTAIN BELLAMY who dismantled 14 opponents by upwards of fourteen lengths at Dromahane (Good) towards the end of April.

A four year old by Black Sam Bellamy, who was handled by Jonathan Fogarty in south Wexford, he raced prominently throughout jumping superbly and outclassing his toiling rivals. The clock confirmed it was a smart effort with him recording the fastest time of the day on a competitive card. Acquired privately soon afterwards on behalf of Johnny De La Hey, he is likely to remain in bumpers this term before making an indelible impression over obstacles.

FARLAND was sent off 100/30 favourite for the Goffs Defender bumper at the Punchestown Festival with crack amateur Derek O’Connor at the wheel. Trained by Sean Doyle, of Monbeg fame, the Getaway gelding moved smoothly into contention before the home turn. His lack of experience was evident in the homestraight with the four year old hanging late on before filling fourth position.

A handful of lengths behind the Willie Mullins trained winner Predators Gold, he was a €100,000 store and is a half-brother Grade 1 winning novice hurdler Minella Cocooner. Described as ‘a very nice horse’ by his new handler when we spoke in August, the Neil and Alfie Smith owned gelding could make his UK debut in the Listed bumper at Cheltenham (19th November) next month – a prize Team Ditcheat claimed with Timeforatune a couple of years ago.

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Owner Chris Giles has had countless big days over the years with Grade 1 winners such as Greaneteen, Silviniaco Conti, Stay Away Fay and Zarkandar amongst others. The same patron added to his string in the spring when paying €450,000 for the winning Irish pointer HISTRIONIC.

A four year old by Walk In The Park who was trained across the Irish Sea by Denis Murphy, he hails from the family of Cheltenham Festival scorer Alfie Sherrin and Warwick Classic Chase victor Kimberlite Candy. Making his pointing bow at Tralee in April, he justified favouritism in the three miles, four year old maiden, fending off Boston Boy – who was later sold for €230,000 and now residing at Jackdaws Castle – by two and a half lengths. Bought six days later at the Punchestown Festival Sale, he is another youngster earmarked for bumpers this winter.

Will Biddick made his name as a hugely successful point-to-point rider over the years and, more recently, has become an integral part of the champion trainer’s set up with his breaking and pre training at Alhampton, a short distance from Ditcheat. The 36 year old was responsible for the unbeaten IL PINO who won a two and a half miles point at Chaddesley Corbett (Good) in early December by three lengths. A tall, rangy gelding by Coastal Path who measures 17hh, he beat Man of My Dreams who was subsequently sold for £100,000 before finishing runner-up in a Huntingdon bumper last spring. A €52,000 store who was bought at the Goffs Landrover Sale, he should provide his owners The Pendil Partnership with plenty of fun this season and beyond.

'Another exciting recruit from across the English Channel'

Anthony Bromley purchased household names Big Buck’s, Kauto Star and Master Minded for Nicholls and the leading bloodstock agent was also responsible for the acquisition of another ex-French racer IRANDANDO HAS.

Set to race in the well known silks of John and Lisa Hales, the No Risk At All gelding was denied by a neck in the Listed Prix Finot at Auteuil in September last year staying on well after the last. From the same source as another Ditcheat Grade 1 winner Monmiral, namely Francois Nicolle, he has been given plenty of time to bed into his new surroundings and was purposely kept as a novice for this campaign. The Bromley / Hales / Nicholls axis also included Neptune Collonges and Politologue and they may have another exciting recruit from across the English Channel.

JOYAU ALLEN is another former Irish pointer who will be donned the blue and pink colours of Johnny De La Hey, having arrived in Somerset last spring. A well built chestnut gelding by Muhtathir, he is a full-brother to eight times Grade 1 winner Envoi Allen and, like his more illustrious older sibling, began his racing career with Colin Bowe.

Strong in the market on his debut at Borris House in early March, Barry O’Neill’s mount looked the likely winner approaching the second last having travelled powerfully throughout. However, he found Tellherthename (later sold for £200,000 and has joined Ben Pauling) five lengths too good, with a distance back to the third. It is possible the three miles trip stretched his stamina and he is very much one to look out for in a bumper on his Rules debut.

'Looks a fine long-term prospect'

QUEBECOIS also filled the runners-up berth in his sole point-to-point across the water. The Doyle family paid €88,000 for the No Risk At All gelding at the Tattersalls Derby Sale as a three year old and he is a half-brother to the ill-fated Cheltenham Festival winner Brindisi Breeze. Beaten a length by the now Harry Derham trained Queensbury Boy (sold for £130,000) at Lismore in March, he led at the second last but found the Denis Murphy trained winner too strong on the run-in.

The third was narrowly denied in a novice hurdle at Uttoxeter for Stuart Edmunds earlier this month. Despite that reversal, he cost his new connections a hefty £320,000 and looks a fine long-term prospect. Belonging to the McNeill Family, Stevens and McKenzie, he won’t be rushed.

The stable had an excellent season in bumpers last year with 20 winners from 66 runners and have unearthed future Graded winners McFabulous (€88,000) and Stage Star (€60,000) in recent years. Once again, the champion trainer is blessed with an enviable looking team of choicely bred youngsters who will go down the bumper route, including REGENT’S STROLL. From the same family as Denman, the Chris Giles owned four year old cost 175,000gns at the Goffs UK Spring Sale last year. A gelded son of Walk In The Park, he has reportedly showed all the right signs at home and is one to look out for on his first racecourse appearance.

Colm Donlan has owned Graded winners Langer Dan, Le Mercurey and Shan Blue in recent years and he is the new owner of the once raced juvenile hurdle prospect TUTTI QUANTI. A tall, rangy looking gelding who was trained by Francois Nicolle, he came off second best behind Kit Raffles (won over fences since) at Senonnes in early August.

Having been towards the rear, he made ground on the final circuit and was in front turning for home. Still at the head of affairs jumping the last, he got tired late on edging to his right and had no answer to the winner on the run-in. It was an encouraging start though and, given his size, there should be a lot more to come from him. The form looks solid, too, with the third and fourth (twice) winning subsequently.

'His attributes include speed and stamina'

Last but certainly not least, in fact WELCOM TO CARTRIES could be the star of the show having looked a high-class prospect in his point-to-point last December. A French bred gelding by Walk In The Park who was an €80,000 Derby Sale buy for Donnchadh Doyle, he galloped his dozen opponents into submission at Borris House (Yielding) scoring by sixteen lengths.

Bought privately shortly afterwards, the five year old was an early Christmas present for Johnny De La Hey before being left off for the second half of last season. Given his age, one would expect him to be sent straight over timber with two and a half miles likely to be his optimum for now. His attributes include speed and stamina and he looks Graded material. He may not have received many, if any, column inches in the racing press this Autumn but that won’t be the case for much longer.

10 for the Tracker


More In The Series

Part One: Gordon Elliott

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