All hail Team Ditcheat and their boss, trainer Paul Nicholls.
8 winners on one day of racing is an extraordinary achievement. Although I had forewarned members of VG Tips that the Somerset based trainer would have a good day, I could never have imagined it would be that good.
I have long admired the well oiled machine that is Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat. Having personally watched how the yard works, and seen up close the dedication of the staff, I believe Paul Nicholls has the best operation of any National Hunt stables.
Paul Nicholls is a successful trainer because he leaves nothing to chance.
Incredibly, the word “luck” was used by some broadcasters in relation to how well Nicholls did on Saturday. No. It was about planning. Not luck.
Paul Nicholls has his horses inoculated every six months. It meant they had received their boosters and were not vulnerable to being prevented from racing due to the recent equine ‘flu outbreak.
So it was that his horses were fit, ready and able to race on a super Saturday of racing that included 4 winners for me and members of VG Tips.
One of them, Clan Des Obeaux (pictured top), was dismissed by some prior to him winning the Grade 2 Denman Chase – a race named after one of the greatest ever horses to be trained by Nicholls.
Clan Des Obeaux only had three horses in opposition and will find the Cheltenham Gold Cup a much tougher challenge. But he won by 11 lengths and Nicholls was delighted with the manner of the victory.
Another trainer with plenty to smile about was Nigel Twiston-Davies. His now highly rated Al Dancer is the new 9/2 favourite to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival. The gelding won the Class 1, Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle by three and three quarter lengths in the hands of jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies.
His brother William, who now assists his father with training, said of Al Dancer: “I think he’s probably the best horse we’ve ever trained.”
There were several other good looking winners on Saturday. It was a fabulous day of quality racing.
A day which offered clues to which horses may come out on top at the Cheltenham Festival three weeks from now, and also for the top class meeting at Aintree in April. A meeting that culminates with the Grand National – a race for which I have tipped the winner for the past three years.
Paul Nicholls now has to decide where his most impressive winner, Cyrname, goes next. He won the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase by a whopping 17 lengths, leaving market favourite Waiting Patiently far behind.
Cyrname left me and many others who watched the race exclaiming… WOW! Jockey Harry Cobden said: “I knew he was very good but even I didn’t realise he was this good.”