Nicholls ‘disappointed’ as Bravemansgame misses out at Aintree

Paul Nicholls described himself as “disappointed” after an ownership issue led to him being unable to run his star chaser Bravemansgame in Thursday’s Alder Hey Aintree Bowl.

Having finished best of the rest behind Galopin Des Champs in last month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, the King George hero was due to line up as a major contender on day one of the Grand National meeting.

The British Horseracing Authority initially cleared Bravemansgame to contest the Grade One heat after the eight-year-old switched into the sole ownership of Bryan Drew on Tuesday, having previously been owned in partnership with John Dance, but then withdrew the horse on Wednesday evening after an intervention from the Financial Conduct Authority.

Dance founded Vertem Asset Management, a prominent sponsor within racing, but that firm is one of three trading names of WealthTek LLP, which was last week ordered to cease all regulated activities by the FCA due to “serious regulatory and operational issues coming to light”.

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Bravemansgame winning the King George VI Chase at Kempton
Bravemansgame winning the King George VI Chase at Kempton (John Walton/PA)

Speaking to Betfair on ‘Ditcheat Decs’ on Thursday morning, Nicholls was understandably deflated.

“I’m obviously disappointed by the course of events that led up to us not being able to run him, but that’s out of my hands and I can’t really say any more than that,” said the champion trainer.

“It’s just bitterly disappointing.”

A statement issued by the BHA on Wednesday evening said: “In light of new information, including a court order, provided to the BHA on Wednesday 12 April by the Financial Conduct Authority Bravemansgame is no longer able to take part in the race and has been withdrawn.

“The BHA will continue to liaise with the FCA and other affected parties.”

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