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Paul Nicholls focusing on the Randox Grand National
Paul Nicholls had fewer runners at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival than Willie Mullins had winners, however he will be hoping for success at Aintree next month as he makes a bid for a 13th trainers’ championship. Of all the stable’s runners at Prestbury Park last week, Bell Ex One fared best of all when finishing in third position in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle although Nicholls’ eight other runners didn’t make any impact.
Indeed the trainer’s best chance of victory looked to be with Bravemansgame although the handler decided to withdraw him from the Browns Advisory Novices’ Chase due to heavy rain making the conditions very testing. A host of other runners were scratched by the trainer but they will make appearances at Aintree during the course of the three-day meeting, Bravemansgame set to contest the Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase on Friday, 8th April.
In the Grand National itself, Highland Hunter will represent Nicholls and the £500,000 winning prize fund would certainly be a hefty boost to the handler’s title hopes. Thus far, Nicholls has won prize money to the value £2,120,141 while closest rival Nicky Henderson isn’t too far behind at £1,935,873. Dan Skelton is third in the rankings here with £1,813,460 while Willie Mullins is currently on £1,569,773 following his ten winners at the Cheltenham Festival.
Nicholls said: “We’ve got loads to run at Aintree and all those ones who didn’t run at Cheltenham – McFabulous, Thyme Whyte, Bravemansgame, Simply The Betts, Saint Calvados – will all go there and a dry fortnight will suit them.
“I took them out because of the ground and all they would have had at Cheltenham is hard races for nothing. If the ground is wrong for the horse you’ve got, you don’t run. We’ll wait for another day and all the horses are fine.”