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Paul Nicholls' convictions about Bravemansgame being a King George winner in waiting proved to be true as Britain's champion trainer won the festive showpiece for the 13th time
  1. Horse Racing
  2. Cheltenham Festival

Horse Racing: Bravemansgame showcases Gold Cup credentials

Paul Nicholls' convictions about Bravemansgame being a King George winner in waiting proved to be true as Britain's champion trainer won the festive showpiece for the 13th time.

The Boxing Day Grade 1 at Kempton was pigeon-holed by Nicholls for Bravemansgame when he won as a novice on the same card 12 months ago and – yet again – the Ditcheat supremo showed he can train for a target like few of his peers.

Bravemansgame and Harry Cobden were usurped in the betting by L'Homme Presse and they were done few favours as that rival jumped to his left during the race, giving Bravemansgame a bit of a headache.

But Cobden's willing partner was already looking set to win the battle between the big two when Charle Deutsch was unseated from L'Homme Presse after the final fence.

Bravemansgame galloped relentlessly to the line, with Royale Pagaille inheriting a distant second ahead of 2020 winner Frodon – who yet again made the running and was gallant in defeat under Bryony Frost.

Having started this morning as a 20/1 chance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup market, Bravemansgame is now 10/1 for that race on 17th March.

There was always something of a concern that this track would suit Bravemansgame more than L'Homme Presse and, despite his late unseat, the latter drifted just a point to 7/1 in the Gold Cup market behind short-price favourite Galopin Des Champs at 13/8 for Willie Mullins.

Cheltenham already the focus

Winning jockey Cobden said on ITV Racing: "If he was mine I'd go straight to the Gold Cup, go there fresh and take a chance."

With regards to the extra two furlongs in prospect in the Cotswolds, Nicholls meanwhile admitted "it was good to see him stay on strongly like that in the home straight".

Clearly the team at Ditcheat are on the same wavelength, as Nicholls confirmed that Bravemansgame won't race again before Cheltenham in March.

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"He'll go straight there – straight for the Gold Cup," a delighted winning trainer told ITV Racing.

"We just hope for slightly better ground than today, I think that would suit him. He's a very smart horse when he's right."

Pushed on whether he believes Bravemansgame is a potential Gold Cup winner, Nicholls suggested: "If it's nice ground I'm very happy to run him. You have to go and have a go. Look what [Kauto Star] did – he won five King Georges and a couple of Gold Cups.

"I'm not comparing him with Kauto, but horses that do well in this race tend to do well in Gold Cups.

"He's probably mature enough now to get the trip on decent ground. You have to give it a go – there's no point going for anywhere else – so we'll give it our best shot."

L'Homme Presse still in the mix

For L'Homme Presse and his supporters, the hope will be that going back left-handed at Cheltenham can be a positive for him. 

Despite his errant jumping, he was still right in the hunt up the home straight in what became a duel with Bravemansgame.

Amongst the major King George disappointments was Envoi Allen, last month's Down Royal Champion Chase winner failing to justify the strong market support that came for him on raceday and he ran a laboured race under Rachael Blackmore. 

As a result, he's drifted to 66/1 for Gold Cup glory come March.

Royale Pagaille was never really a threat to win the race and the runner-up remains at 66/1 for Gold Cup glory in the Cotswolds.

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