Paul Nicholls Press Day | Cheltenham Festival 2018

James Kenealey

by James Kenealey on

Morson Group are the proud sponsors of champion horse trainer Paul Nicholls’ stables in Ditcheat, Somerset, along with jockeys Bryony Frost, Megan Nicholls and Harry Cobden. In February 2018, we organised an exclusive open day for the press and our clients at the stables, ahead of the prestigious Cheltenham Festival. Guests included the Racing Post, the Press Association, and other local and national press.

During the event, guests were invited to the gallops, to a parade of Cheltenham runners and to take part in a Q&A event at the Manor House Inn – watch the action below.

During the Q&A session, journalists and clients were invited to ask questions to the panel, which included Paul Nicholls, jockey Bryony Frost and assistant trainer Tom Jonason. Initial questions centred around the squad of horses Paul has at his disposal for 2018.

Paul Nicholls: Like any football team, you’re only as good as the players you’ve got and it always changes year in and year out. We’ve got a lot of progressive young horses that are coming on through and there will be more so in the future. We’re probably a bit weak at the top end but it’s just about running those horses in the races they can win and having eight winners [the previous weekend] we did that well. You’ve just got to really race the horses in the right races. Horses like Frodon, Black Corton will keep on winning races and that’s what it’s all about. We’ve just got to keep looking for those new stars all the time.

Paul was also keen to underline the importance of sponsorship, and paid particular praise to event hosts Morson.

Paul Nicholls: I can’t say enough thank you’s to Ged [Mason, CEO] and Morson for sponsoring the yard this year, it’s really taken sponsorship to a new level. All the owners appreciate it immensely and it’s a great relationship. Thanks [for also sponsoring] Bryony, my daughter Megan and Harry Cobden, they’ve been riding great winners and it’s been great publicity. It’s great to have a relationship going into Cheltenham.

The Cheltenham Festival was naturally the focus of much of the discussion at the event, with both Paul and Tom discussing both the present and the future.

Tom Jonason: Going into Cheltenham we have some good hopes, like Black Corton in the RSA. I’m off to France tonight and then Ireland after that! Every time you buy a horse it’s for two years down the line, it’s not about next week. It’s 18 months before you see the best of them and it’s at least two years before you know if they’re championship class.

Paul Nicholls: Out of my horses, this year we have Tommy Silver. He’s done consistently well during the season and we’ve been waiting for the spring and better ground and I’ve always thought he’d be one to go to Cheltenham with a good chance if I run him in the right race. There will obviously be other ones too. Romain de Senam hasn’t been running all winter, loves good ground, loves Cheltenham and he’s another one who could be a bit of a surprise package.

A lot of publicity in the last few months has centred around jockey Bryony Frost after she became only the second woman ever to win a Grade One race. When asked about how much pressure this newfound publicity put on her, she was quick to play it down.

Bryony Frost: I’ve got a funny head on me. I don’t see it as my work, its our work. It’s a team, and my job is like the last piece of the puzzle if you like, and I have to make sure it fits. It’s been months down the line of getting the horse in from the field and making sure he’s happy and getting his training. All the team work behind him, all the preparation and the passion behind the horse to get him to even be at the racecourse let alone win. For a jockey our job is pretty simple. We know what we’ve got to do, the trainer knows the horse and knows how he wants this horse to be run so you ride them to the best of your ability. My world has been a massive whirlwind but it’s the life you want to be in and it’s a world you love. I’ve been in it since I opened my eyes so why would I want to change it?

Paul Nicholls: It doesn’t matter whether they’re male or female, if they’re good enough they get opportunities. Saturday at Chepstow in the Handicap Hurdle the winner was ridden by Bryony, the second by Lizzy Kelly and the third by Bridget Andrews – there are some good girls riding but it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, it’s a tough game but the ones that are coming through are doing really well.

One question from the room concerned which horses the panel would like to train or ride that are owned by other stables.

Bryony Frost: Buveur D’Air. Who would deny that horse? All he’s got to do is jump and his mechanics stay safe and he’ll win. So for me that’s your best chance of a festival winner, even though it is for Henderson!

Paul Nicholls: I’ll say Altior. Anyone would want to train him, he looks a superstar doesn’t he?

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