Bravemansgame gets Paul Nicholls back in the game with superb win at Newbury, fuelling hopes of Cheltenham success
- Bravemansgame pulled off weight-defying performance at Newbury
- Ridden by Harry Cobden, Bravemansgame finished ahead of Pats Fancy
- Gelding has been shortened to 7-2 for Brown Advisory Chase at Cheltenham
- Paul Nicholls had only two winners out of 40 starters last week
Bravemansgame confirmed his place as Paul Nicholls’ leading hope for the Cheltenham Festival with a weight-defying performance at Newbury that eased concerns about the form of the 12-time champion trainer’s string.
The Harry Cobden-ridden gelding gave 16lb and a three-and-a-half-length beating to Pats Fancy — a useful opponent who has the National Hunt Chase as his Festival target — in the Betfair Novices’ Handicap Chase and is now 7-2 for the Brown Advisory Chase at Cheltenham.
After a week with no runners and only two winners from his previous 40 starters, Nicholls was seeking reasons for the drop in form. But with no obvious issues and blood tests coming up clear, Nicholls’ decision to plough on appeared to pay off.
Bravemansgame pulled off an impressive win at Newbury on Saturday afternoon
He was also successful at Uttoxeter with Bryony Frost-ridden Red Risk, while Nicholls described the third places of Clan Des Obeaux and Hitman in the Denman and Game Spirit Chases respectively as solid runs from horses who ‘just weren’t good enough’.
Nicholls said: ‘Everything today has run really good races. I was confident Bravemansgame would run well but if we hadn’t had a winner today I would have been pulling my hair out.’
Yesterday’s Newbury meeting, known as Super Saturday, was a regular Festival stepping stone for Nicholls when he trained his outstanding Gold Cup winners Denman and Kauto Star and he will now hope it is the perfect springboard for Bravemansgame.
Ridden by Harry Cobden, Bravemansgame finished comfortably ahead of Pats Fancy
Bravemansgame will be Paul Nicholls’ best hope of success at the Cheltenham Festival
Colin Tizzard-trained Eldorado Allen, who won the Denman Chase on his first try at three miles, could be supplemented for the Gold Cup at a cost of £30,000 but is more likely to run in the 2m 5f Ryanair Chase.
Royale Pagaille did enough when second in the Denman Chase to confirm his place in the Gold Cup, where he will be suited by the longer distance, and his trainer Venetia Williams will hope for softer ground.
His stablemate Funambule Sivola booked his place in the Queen Mother Champion Chase when winning the Game Spirit Chase.