Nicholls can hold on for title

April 23rd, 2016 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

Naturally I was very pleased when Vivaldi Collonges landed the nap last week. He is a lightly raced horse and will take high rank among staying chasers next season. It just goes to show that, in a stable as powerful as Paul Nicholls’, talented horses will come back right at the end of the campaign, fitter and fresher than some in the field, and represent excellent value in the market.

The winners that Nicholls and Willie Mullins have had since Ayr has left the situation much the same where the trainers’ championship is concerned. While the gap is around £40,000 plus, a couple of Grade 1 performers doing their stuff on the final day at Sandown will decide the issue. Thus Mullins still has every chance, though it is worth pointing out that Nicholls’ Southfield Theatre, lightly raced and moving up quite easily when brought down at Cheltenham, has a very fair chance in the bet365 Gold Cup.

Overall, I think that Mullins could establish a slender lead via Valseur Lido and Vroum Vroum Mag, with Un De Sceaux not far away either, but Nicholls will do well enough in the handicaps to land the prize with nothing to spare. In particular, ALCALA could win the last with everything still up for grabs. Incidentally. Jonjo O’Neill does not run Champagne At Tara in that but I’d be very interested in him if he went to Punchestown.

On the Flat at Haydock, I expect Jedd O’Keefe’s Shared Equity to make the frame in the valuable seven-furlong handicap at 2.10 and it’s interesting that Karl Burke runs both You’re Fired and Yourartisonfire over a mile later on. I shall have to have a little bit each-way on both; I certainly think Yourartisonfire would have had a very fair chance in the Spring Mile at Doncaster until the heavy ground prompted withdrawal.

It really was atrocious going and for that reason I’d give Richard Fahey’s ALBEN STAR another chance in the six-furlong handicap at Ripon, although another old faithful, Tatlisu, will not be far away, either.

If the bookmakers are offering prices on the jumps title I’d be inclined to back Nicholls, even at a share of odds on, while my main interest elsewhere will be on the Burke-trained pair in that Haydock race.