Paul Nicholls moves further clear in title race

Paul Nicholls further boosted his hopes of being crowned champion trainer for a 10th time at Sandown this weekend after extending his lead over Willie Mullins yesterday.

The master of Ditcheat saddled four runners at Ludlow and Kempton combined and each earned prize-money to stretch the gap between the two trainers to £51,522 as Saturday’s season finale draws ever closer.

Coup De Pinceau was Nicholls’ only runner at Ludlow and duly did the business under Nick Scholfield in the Ladies Day On 8th May Intermediate Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Always travelling sweetly on the heels of the leaders, the 13-8 favourite cruised to the front a furlong out and pulled nine lengths clear of Smoking Dixie to earn £3,249.

Each of the stable’s three runners at Kempton picked up place money without ever looking likely to collect top honours. Port Melon secured £1,908 after finishing a length second to course specialist Loose Chips in the Recticel Insulation Perfect Finish Handicap Chase under Sam Twiston-Davies

Chartbreaker then scooped £792 when running on into the third place in the Protan, Ahead Of The Rest Handicap Hurdle won by Cottersrock.

Polisky was never a factor in the EGR Naturally the Best Open Hunters’ Chase, but stayed on to claim the fourth prize of almost £194 as former Nicholls inmate Grandioso emerged victorious.

The day’s proceeds have taken Nicholls to £2,294,978 for the campaign, with Mullins on £2,243,456.

The Nicholls bid moves on to Taunton’s evening meeting on Thursday where he saddles just two runners - Antartica de Thaix and All Set To Go - in novices’ hurdles.

Mullins enters the fray for the first time since Saturday with both Nambour and Up For Review competing in the same race at Perth, but it is the richest on the card with a total prize fund of £18,000 up for grabs.

  • Top-class hunter chaser On The Fringe goes in search of more glory at Punchestown next week.

JP McManus’s 11-year-old, trained by Enda Bolger, will atttempt to win the Racing Post Champion Hunters’ Chase for a fifth time after his successes in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2015.

Should he do so, he would be completing the remarkable treble of the two Foxhunters’ races at Cheltenham and Aintree plus Punchestown for the second year running.


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