Paul Nicholls’ Cheltenham favourites

Posted on by Beyond Bespoke

With just days to go before the Cheltenham Festival next week, The BB Edit caught up with eight-time champion trainer, Paul Nicholls

Paul with World Hurdle contenders Saphir du Rheu and Zarkandar

How many runners do you have at Cheltenham?
We’ll end up with between 25 to 30 running this year.

Who are your favourites to win?
Silviniaco Conti is our favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday, and Sam Winner, a real live outsider, who is on form this year and has a very good chance. We’re hopeful for an historic Gold Cup win.

On the first day we will run Vilbrato Valtat in the two-mile Arkle Challenge Trophy for novice hurdlers – he’s won four from five over fences. He’s second favourite and our best chance on Tuesday.

On Wednesday we’ve got two going in the big race, the Queen Mother Champion Chase: Dodging Bullets, who won his last two trials and is looking good, and Mr Mole. They’re the leading chances behind Sprinter Sacre.

On Thursday we’ve got two running this year in the three-mile Ladbrokes World Hurdle: Zarkandar and Saphir du Rheu, best joint favourites. Then, of course, it’s the big race on Friday – the Gold Cup, with Silviniaco Conti and Sam Winner. Also running quite nicely are Southfield Theatre, on Wednesday, who’s had a very good season, and Ptit Zig on Thursday, along with Le Mercurey on Friday.

What makes a great horse?
Working with them you get to know their abilities and what they are capable of. Silviniaco Conti is at the top of his form. He’s the cream of the crop.

And finally, are you keeping an eye on the weather forecast?
It’s looking dry until next week. The ground has been a bit soft so it may work to the advantage of those horses who prefer better ground.

The four-day Cheltenham Festival runs from Tuesday March 10-14

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