Most racing journalists seem to have little appetite for tackling Paul Nicholls with the same relish they reserve for some others in racing – like the BHA and its bosses.
It’s understandable, to some extent that they don’t want to be banished from the inside track with popular trainers, but Mr Nicholls has enough power in this business in my opinion. A journalist’s job, and instincts, should be to hold him and others to account when the call comes.
I thought Lydia Hislop enhanced her already robust reputation by not backing off today when Mr Nicholls pretty much told her to do so.
Here’s the audio of the interview. PFn_Lydia
I’m being presumptive in hoping RUK will not object to me reproducing this; if anyone there wants it removed, please get in touch.
Paul Nicholls, writing on his Betfair Blog, has announced most of his Aintree targets. I have skinned them down to a digest – if you want to read the full piece, you’ll find it here.
“Quite a few of my horses have multiple entries - and a couple in particular have got me scratching my head – but I have to get them right, and so I may leave the final decision on them until I have studied all the entries.”
We run Big Buck’s and Gwanako in the opening Grade 1 hurdle. Zarkandar- may be my only runner in the juvenile hurdle, though Empire Levant is still a possible.
Denman goes for the Totesport Bowl and I have three others in the race. What a Friend goes in the National, but Mon Parrain has two other entries (Topham, and a handicap on the Saturday). I will have to speak to Mr Hales about Neptune Collonges; ideally he would want plenty of rain, and if he is to get cut in the ground, it will be on the Thursday.
Blu Teen is entered in the Fox Hunters’ but I suspect he will run in a handicap at Ascot at the weekend.
Woolcombe Folly and Tchico Polos run in the 2m handicap chase and Ghizao steps up in trip for the Grade 2 2m4f novices’ chase.
We have four entries in the 2m4f handicap hurdle but it could be that I rely on just Sire Collonges if he gets in.
I have four entries in the opening novices’ hurdle, and none has been ruled out yet. But providing the ground isn’t too quick, it could be that Brampour is my main hope here. I could run Polisky too, but he is very much a horse for next year.
In the Grade 2 novices’ chase I rely on Robinson Collonges. The Minack, goes for the Scottish National.
Master Minded will be my only runner in the Melling.
Fistral Beach and Free World go for the Topham, and Mon Parrain has that option too.
In the Grade 1 3m novices’ hurdle, I am coming round to thinking that Indian Daudaie could be suited to this race. It is a Grade 1 race and it could cut up and I can see Ruby giving him one of his “creep rides” and going well. He also has the option of the 2m4f handicap on the Thursday but that trip could be on the sharp side round here. We also have the option of the 3m handicap hurdle on this day; Pistolet Noir will run in that.
It could be that Sam Winner will join Rock On Ruby in the race if the ground isn’t too firm.
There were only eight entries in the Maghull, so that will be re-opened. I put two in; Ghizao, targeted for the Thursday, and Pepe Simo. The latter is a clearly a possible, and the return to a smaller field could suit him better.
Celestial Halo will run in the Aintree Hurdle
Mon Parrain and Take The Breeze are entered in the 3m1f handicap chase, and I have my four in the Grand National, headed by What A Friend.
I have three in the conditional handicap hurdle; Tito Bustillo, Rock Of Deauville and Empire Levant. This race is probably my preferred Aintree race for the latter if he gets in; I would be keen to see him race off his current mark with Ryan taking 5lb off.