James Kenealey horse racing
MORSON SPORT | 4 MIN READ
Morson attended the official Cheltenham Festival press day at champion trainer Paul Nicholls' yard
Nicholls ran through the prospective runners for the 2019 Festival, including his Gold Cup contenders
“It’s probably the most excited we’ve been for the Cheltenham Festival for a while with the prospects we have. We’ve been in a really good place this year.
As official sponsors of 10 times National Hunt champion horse trainer Paul Nicholls’ stables, Morson was invited to the pre-Cheltenham press event at the yard on 26th February in Ditcheat, Somerset.
Speaking to members of the local and national press, Paul talked the guests through his runners for this year’s Cheltenham Festival, including his entries to the prestigious Gold Cup race.
“I haven’t been holding them back or training them just for Cheltenham. They’ve had plenty of stick and won races along the way but they’ll go to Cheltenham fit and well and in good shape. We’ve been in a really good place this year and to have a fancied runner in the Gold Cup is really good.”
Nicholls boasts 43 wins at the Cheltenham Festival – the third highest ever - including four Gold Cup wins; 1999 (See More Business), 2007 (Kauto Star), 2008 (Denman) and 2009 (Kauto Star). Many, including Paul, feel that the stables are stronger than they have been for a while, with a lot of work going into building for the future.
“Everything has all gone well this season. It’s probably the most excited we’ve been for the Cheltenham Festival for a while with the prospects we have. [Cheltenham] isn’t the be all and end all for us but to have winners there and be good enough to have horses to run there really tidy is ideal. We’ve changed a few things this season with things like gallop surfaces. It’s just made quite a big difference. Last year, some of the young horses weren’t right but they’ve come back and won this season.”
Nicholls set up Manor Farm Stables in 1991 with just 8 horses and since then has gone on to be a 10-time champion jump trainer. In February 2019, he not only set a new personal record of 8 wins in a single day, he also reached the landmark of 3,000 total career wins.
“To have so many winners at Ascot last week, it was just the most amazing day.”
We also spoke to new #TeamMorson sponsored jockey Harriet Tucker. Harriet endured a tough shoulder injury while racing and she feared she wouldn’t be able to ride again.
“My shoulder came out at Cheltenham last year. I kept trying to push it back in but it wouldn’t go back in but I wasn’t going to stop riding because it’s Cheltenham and you just can’t! The adrenaline helped me get through and helped me go on and win which was amazing. I still can’t describe how amazing it was! I’m looking to go back this year and win it three years in a row and make history!”
Paul Nicholls’ Five Top Contenders For Cheltenham
Clans Des Obeaux (FR)
Clans Des Obeaux is vying for favouritism with Presenting Percy, winner of the 2018 Gold Cup, for this years race on the final day of the festival. While he has yet to win in four attempts at Cheltenham, he has come of age this season with an impressive victory on Boxing Day at the 32Red King Goerge VI Chase at Kempton Park.
Frodon is a general 16/1 chance for the Gold Cup after a success in the G2 BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase in the Cheltenham Festival Trials Day. Frodon underwent wind surgery in the summer, and is partnered by Bryony Frost.
Leading contender for the RSA Novices’ Chase. 154-rated hurdler who was beaten a neck in last season’s Coral Cup at The Festival.
Quel Destin (FR)
Quel Destin is the leading British-trained hope for the G1 JCB Triumph hurdle. Made it five wins in the last five starts in the William Hill Victor Ludorum Juvenile Hurdle at Haydock in February.
Pacha Du Polder (FR)
Aiming to become the first three-time winner of the St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase following victories under Bryony Frost in 2017 and Harriet Tucker in 2018. Finished fifth, beaten 55 lengths on sole start since his Cheltenham success.