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Paul Nicholls
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Paul Nicholls' Cheltenham Festival runners

Whenever he brings down the curtain on his training career, Paul Nicholls is likely to be best remembered for his exploits in the trainers' championship, where he is chasing a fifteenth title in 2023-24, or his untouchable record in the King George at Kempton. 

You have not had a bad career when 48-and-counting Cheltenham Festival winners, and being the closest person to sweeping the Festival's championship races (in 2009, Nicholls had three winners and his Celestial Halo was beaten a neck in the Champion Hurdle) is not on page one of your achievements.

Nicholls' pragmatic view means that he will often target his stable stars, like recent Ascot Chase winner Pic D'Orhy, at meetings that play to their strengths rather than try and force them to become Cheltenham horses.

Still, Nicholls is perhaps the best trainer of a steeplechaser that there has ever been and his horses are always to be feared at Cheltenham. These days he may also claim to have the best man riding his horses too, in title-chasing stable jockey Harry Cobden. 

Here is a run down of Paul Nicholls' best hopes at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival. 

Captain Teague

Although Nicholls is best known for his exploits with his chasers, Captain Teague became his fourth winner in a row of the Challow Novices' Hurdle at Newbury in December.

The identity of his three immediate predecessors - Bravemansgame, Stage Star and Hermes Allen - should give a strong clue as to where his future lies.

But Captain Teague could have a say in the big spring novices before then. He holds entries in both the Gallagher and Albert Bartlett.

He is a shorter price, at 11/1, for the second race but that is mostly a reflection of it generally being an easier race to win than the Gallagher; Captain Teague is 25/1 for that race.

Stay Away Fay

One of the most unexpected blows struck for the home challenge at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival was Stay Away Fay's win in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle.

This horse has always had the look of a staying chaser in the making and Nicholls did an excellent job to have him ready enough to win at Cheltenham.

Since switching to fences this season, Stay Away Fay has looked more than ready to fulfill his destiny. He went unbeaten in a couple of novices before the turn of the year, then he tested the waters against fully-fledged chasers in the Cotswold Chase.

He lost little in defeat that day, finishing an outpaced third. Admittedly, it ended his somewhat hopeful-looking Gold Cup entry, but it keeps him firmly among the main contenders for the novices' equivalent, the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase.

With favourite Fact To File's destination still not set (but likely to be a thorn in Nicholls' side either way, as we will see), Stay Away Fay might even go off favourite for the Brown Advisory. He is currently 11/4.


Paul Nicholls has never won the Champion Bumper and Teeshan looks his best hope in a while of adding that race to his collection. This horse won a point-to-point by 41 lengths, from a horse that won on their next start, and then followed up on his debut for Nicholls in good style at Exeter.

Harry Cobden never had to get truly serious as Teeshan stretched away from the field at Exeter. He looked every inch the sort of excellent jumping prospect his trainer brings along better than anyone else.

Sometimes, horses like that are good enough to win a big spring bumper and Nicholls looks sure to try with 7/1 shot Teeshan, whether it is at Cheltenham or Aintree.

Ginny's Destiny

When it comes to the novice chases at the Cheltenham Festival, no competitor will have more relevant course experience than Ginny's Destiny. This horse joined Nicholls from Tom Lacey at the start of the season and has never looked back, getting tired on his first run but winning three times since. 

None of Ginny's Destiny's runs have been in graded races. But the form in all cases appeals as strong. For one, he has jumped beautifully, a mark of many of Nicholls' chasers. Second, he has consistently been impressive on the clock. His last two runs have been on cards with Premier handicaps over the same course and distance, and both times Ginny's Destiny has fared better on time analysis. 

But just as appealing as either of those is the collateral form. He beat Grey Dawning in December, and that horse breezed to Grade 2 success next time. And his most recent win, in a red-hot handicap off topweight, showed that Ginny's Destiny is ready not only for graded races, but the highest level at a track where he clearly thrives.

He is 11/4 for the Turners' Novices Chase and if, as expected, Fact To File goes up in trip for the Brown Advisory, Ginny's Destiny could end up a fairly warm favourite for the race.

Stage Star

Ginny's Destiny is largely treading a path laid for him by stablemate Stage Star last year. This horse won the same handicap in January before Cobden delivered him with a perfect ride to win the Turners. He then looked like the next-likeliest, after the now-absent Allaho, to win the Ryanair after taking the big Gold Cup handicap here in November.

Stage Star next ran at Cheltenham on New Year's Day, but fluffed his lines badly and was pulled up. But for that, he might be favourite for the Ryanair. As it is, Banbridge is in front of him but that horse is reputed to be highly ground dependent and will not be risked unless the going is good or thereabouts. At 9/2, Stage Star could end up looking a good bet on his previous course form.


Last year's Gold Cup second is a pretty big price this time around, at 20/1. It has admittedly not been his season in a lot of ways, he is winless in three. But he would have won the Charlie Hall but for a better jump at the last and he put up a spirited defence of his King George, finishing second to Hewick, having raced closer than the winner to the race's searching gallop.

Only a bang-in-form Galopin Des Champs kept Bravemansgame at bay in last year's Gold Cup. While the winner has shown he is every bit as good as that suggests this season, he has also shown punters that he is not a bankable sort to turn up at his very best all the time. Bravemansgame, for his part, goes well fresh and is likely to be at his physical peak for the Gold Cup. In what may not be a deep renewal, 20s may yet look big.

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