Paul Nicholls seeks eighth Greatwood triumph

A field of 14 is set to go to post for tomorrow’s StanJames.com Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury.
Paul Nicholls seeks eighth Greatwood triumph

Paul Nicholls has landed the valuable contest seven times since its inception in 2004, including in 2015 with Sound Investment, and the champion trainer is responsible this year for Sky Bet’s 11/2 favourite Art Mauresque (11st 4lb) and 7/1 shot Sametegal (11st 3lb), who will be ridden by Noel Fehily and Harry Cobden respectively.

Art Mauresque won a novices’ chase at Cheltenham in October and went on to finish a close sixth in the Paddy Power Gold Cup back at the same course the following month, while fellow novice Sametegal scored at Huntingdon in November and was travelling well when unseating Sam Twiston-Davies in the Grade Two Fuller’s London Pride Novices’ Chase at Newbury later the same month.

The weights for the handicap chase, run over just short of two and a half miles, are headed by Jonjo O’Neill’s Shutthefrontdoor (11st 12lb), who finished fifth in last season’s Grand National and was third over hurdles on his only appearance this season at Aintree in December.

Bennys Mist (11st 5lb) was the three quarters of a length runner-up to Sound Investment last year and has been in great form this season.

Successful in the Grand Sefton Chase over two miles and five furlongs of the Grand National course at Aintree in December, he was last seen when a close third to stable companion Dare Me in a valuable handicap chase at Ascot in January.

The 10-year-old runs in the Manchester United-inspired colours of the Mezzone family and Graham Mezzone said: “Bennys Mist has been an outstanding horse for us and exceeded all our expectations.

“He was second to Sound Investment in this race last year and they finished 17 lengths clear of the rest. We were really using the race last year as a prep race before going to Aintree so it was a tremendous effort.

“It was a great run last time at Ascot, especially when you consider he was running off a career-high mark (145). Liam (Treadwell) jumped off him that day and told me that was an outstanding effort. I have to agree with him, as we were giving Dare Me a lot of weight and on Timeform ratings he was down to beat us. Bennys Mist ran all the way to the line at Ascot and never runs a bad race.”

“The horse seems to love Newbury and Aintree — they are the two courses he always seems to run well at. He has run four times at Newbury — he won a novices’ chase, fell in a race when Aidan Coleman thought he would have won and ran a cracking race in the Greatwood Gold Cup last year.

“If all goes to plan at Newbury on Saturday, we will be heading back to Aintree in April for the Topham Chase. He won the Grand Sefton this year and has been placed twice over the fences so we have to go back there. He really loves the fences at Aintree.”

French trainer Emmanuel Clayeux is set to saddle his first runners at Newbury, headed by Pythagore (11st 8lb), a multiple winner over fences in France including in a Grade Two contest at Auteuil in November. Clayeux’s other runner is Vicomte Du Seuil (10st 8lb), who won a chase at Pau in December and ran most recently when runner-up in a hurdle at the same venue on February 2.

Other contenders prominent in the betting nclude Little Jon (11st 3lb), successful over the course and distance in November, and Generous Ransom (10st 10lb), a winner at Cheltenham last season who hinted at a return to form on his latest start at Doncaster in December.

Colin Tizzard’s yard is in great form and is set to be represented by Ultragold (10st 5lb), a comfortable winner at Wincanton last month.

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