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Paul Nicholls Bidding for Record-Matching Gold Cup Triumph

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British Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls goes into this year’s Cheltenham Festival bidding to win the biggest race of the week- the Cheltenham Gold Cup – for a record-match fifth time.

Nicholls is considered one of the most successful National Hunt horse racing trainers in history. He won the Blue Riband contest in 1999, 2007, 2008 and 2009. If Bravemansgame is victorious this year, he will match the record set by Pat Taaffe.

Last Year’s Runner-Up Taking on Galopin Des Champs Again

Bravemansgame is 16/1 in the betting on Cheltenham Festival for the Gold Cup. The nine-year-old horse finished just behind Galopin Des Champs in the 2023 renewal of the race - an excellent run from the former King George VI Chase winner.

The defending champion is one of the leading Cheltenham tips this year, so Bravemansgame will need a big performance to reverse the form with the Irish horse in the day four contest. Willie Mullins’ runner comes into the race on the back of a victory in the Irish Gold Cup just weeks earlier.

Nicholls knows all about preparing a horse for the Gold Cup. He has run Bravemansgame three times this season, with his last appearance being at the King George VI Chase where he was second behind Hewick. The Ditcheat trainer has given him some time off since then to ensure he is as fresh as possible for his Cheltenham Festival assignment.

Henderson Trailing Nicholls in Trainers’ Championship Standings

The race for the 2023/24 Trainers’ Championship is proving to be close this season with Nicholls, Dan Skelton and Nicky Henderson all in with an excellent chance of finishing at the top of the standings at the end of the campaign.

Henderson is in third place going into the Cheltenham Festival, and victory in the feature race will help him close the gap on his rivals. The former Champion Trainer will saddle Shishkin in his first attempt at the day four contest.

Shishkin was victorious in the Grade Two Denman Chase on his final run before his Cheltenham Gold Cup appearance. The former Arkle Challenge Trophy winner finished second in the Ryanair Chase at the meeting 12 months ago.

Strong Challenge from Ireland

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">What a race! 👏<br><br>A thrilling renewal of the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase as Fastorslow confirms form with Galopin Des Champs, with the seven-year-old scoring narrowly from Appreciate It under the guidance of JJ Slevin for trainer Martin Brassil 🏆 <a href="https://t.co/zOrSilqtDS">pic.twitter.com/zOrSilqtDS</a></p>&mdash; Punchestown (@punchestownrace) <a href="https://twitter.com/punchestownrace/status/1728785772310933580?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 26, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Mullins is not the only trainer from Ireland who has a runner in this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. Fastorslow will represent Martin Brassil. The Irish horse has had an excellent 12 months, as he was victorious in the Punchestown Gold Cup and John Durkan Chase in 2023.

Fastorslow was second in the 2024 Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival last month. He came home just over four lengths behind Galopin Des Champs in that prestigious contest in Ireland. 

Gerri Colombe is another leading contender from Ireland who is having his first taste of the Cheltenham Gold Cup this year. He had an excellent novice campaign last season, but he had to settle for the runner-up spot in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase. His connections will be hoping they end up in the winners’ enclosure this time at the meeting.

The 2024 Cheltenham Gold Cup takes place on Friday, 15th of March at 15:30 (GMT).

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