Nicholls optimistic over Grandioso December Gold Cup chance
Paul Nicholls has been enjoying a tremendous run of success in recent weeks and appears confident of a bold display from his progressive young chaser, Grandioso, who contests the Grade 3 December Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on December 14, the race run this year as the Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup.
Nicholls, keen to regain the champion trainers’ title that slipped through his grasp last season and went the way of archrival, Nick Henderson, has spoken optimistically about the chance of Grandioso, a six-year-old son of the Ascot Gold Cup winner Westerner.
A fair if unspectacular novice hurdler a couple of seasons ago, the six-year-old took really well to novice chasing last season winning nicely on his chasing bow at Wincanton before finding The Druid’s Nephew too good for him at the same track in January.
A facile 37-length defeat of Cadoudalas at Ludlow the following month was followed by a third win over the larger obstacles when Grandioso showed he could fight for a victory as well in getting the better of the useful Molotov by a length in the Grade 2 racingplus.co.uk Pendil Novices Chase on Racing Post Chase Day at Kempton in February.
Not seen again until reappearing at Newbury at the end of last month in his first handicap chase, Grandioso looked as though the run would bring him on as he finished third behind Cantlow in the bet365 Open Handicap Chase, a performance that clearly pleased connections and has convinced them to let their progressive performer take his chance against more experienced and higher class rivals at Cheltenham.
Generally on offer in the racing betting markets at at around 7/1 for the December Gold Cup, Grandioso is reported to have blown up at the second last at Newbury and Nicholls and his team believe he has improved for that run and give a very good account of himself in the big race, granted the pre-requisite luck in running.
Johns Spirit and Colour Squadron, first and second in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in mid-November, are both expected to cross swords again in what is building up to be a fine race.
Others declared at the five-day stage, according to racing live betting outlets, include Malcolm Jefferson’s Attaglance, a winner over hurdles at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival, and Cantlow, the horse who defeated Grandioso at Newbury last time out.