Wylie turns to Nicholls and Mullins as he cuts string to 20

Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins, the respective British and Irish champion jumps trainers, will be the recipients of the select team of horses Graham Wylie plans to keep in training.

The move comes after the four-year ban from the sport imposed on Wylie’s principal trainer Howard Johnson, who subsequently announced his retirement, and the millionaire owner intends to drastically cut his string to just 20 horses.

Quwetwo, Ascendant, Doeslessthanme, Double Expresso, Hold Fast and The Knoxs had already joined Nicholls prior to Johnson’s suspension, and another seven, including 2008 Arkle hero Tidal Bay, will take their place in the team at Ditcheat.

Wylie will have horses trained in Ireland for the first time, with the exciting Back In Focus among those to join Mullins in County Carlow.

“I’m going down to 20 horses and I will only have two trainers. I’ll have the best in the UK, which is Paul Nicholls, and the best in Ireland, which is Willie Mullins,” Wylie said.

“Paul will have 13 of the horses and Willie will train seven.

“Willie is going to have Back In Focus, Boston Bob, Felix Yonger, On His Own, Prince De Beauchene, Drive Time and Rupert Lamb.

“Paul has six horses already for me and the other seven are Tidal Bay, Tigre D’Aron, Zhakiera Spirit, Prospect Wells, Frankie Figg, Roger Beantown and Grandioso.

“All the rest of my horses will be going to the sales. I’m looking forward to the season.”

nConnections of Goldikova refused to make excuses after the brilliant mare was forced to play second fiddle to exciting youngster Immortal Verse in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville yesterday.

Freddie Head’s Goldikova was bidding for a remarkable 15th career victory at Group or Grade One level, and looking to atone for an odds-on reverse in this straight mile contest 12 months ago.

Despite the testing conditions not being in her favour, all appeared to be going swimmingly for Olivier Peslier’s mount, with the six-year-old travelling kindly in behind the leaders.

Once pulled out to challenge, Goldikova swept past those in front of her with relative ease, but the danger was to come from her left on the near rail.

Gerald Mosse sat last in the early stages on Robert Collett’s Coronation Stakes heroine Immortal Verse, a filly three years younger than her esteemed rival and in receipt of 7lb.

She made eyecatching headway towards the stands side and once Mosse pushed the button, the Robert Collet-trained filly quickened up in quite brilliant style to put the race to bed.

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