Paul Nicholls is under no illusions about the task facing defending champion Politologue in next month’s Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase – hailing red-hot favourite Chacun Pour Soi as “nearly unbeatable”.
Politologue provided the Ditcheat handler with a joint-record sixth victory in the two-mile showpiece at the Cheltenham Festival last March, and made a successful start to the current campaign by bagging his second Tingle Creek at Sandown.
However, the grey was beaten by First Flow on his latest outing in Ascot’s Clarence House Chase – and having witnessed the Willie Mullins-trained Chacun Pour Soi trounce his rivals at last weekend’s Dublin Racing Festival, Nicholls admits his charge has plenty on his plate.
Speaking on Racing TV’s Luck On Sunday programme, Nicholls said: “Chacun Pour Soi looks nearly unbeatable on his run at Leopardstown the other day.
“He has got to act at Cheltenham – it’s a slightly different track and that is the only question mark I can see.
“Politologue always gives his all and is the most genuine and tough horse. I think this year will be his sixth Cheltenham Festival.
“But if Chacun Pour Soi does turn up in really top form, he’s going to be hard for us all to beat.
“Politologue does like Cheltenham, which is a big plus, but I think he’s got plenty to do.”
During an extensive interview, Nicholls confirmed his Challow Hurdle winner Bravemansgame firmly on course for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at next month’s Festival, while the improving Barbados Buck’s is “in the mix” for the Albert Bartlett.
Of Bravemansgame, he said: “He’s in good form and nice and fresh. He had four runs up to and including the Challow Hurdle at Christmas and we just decided to keep him fresh after that.
“He worked well on Saturday and is very fit. We’ll probably have an away-day somewhere with him and I couldn’t be happier with him.
“Physically, he just keeps on improving.”
Nicholls’ Cheltenham team also includes Cheltenham Gold Cup hope Frodon, of whom he added: “He’s an amazing horse. He’s gone and won a King George VI Chase now on top of a Cotswold Chase and a Ryanair.
“He’s definitely in the mix. Nobody will ever believe Frodon will win a Gold Cup, but he keeps on surprising people.”
The multiple champion trainer confirmed the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell followed by a trip to Aintree as “the plan at the moment” for McFabulous, although testing conditions at Fontwell may prompt connections to consider the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
More immediately, Nicholls is looking forward to saddling both Cyrname and Master Tommytucker in next Saturday’s Betfair Ascot Chase.
“Master Tommytucker would be fine getting a lead if Cyrname goes a real gallop. They’re both free-going kind of horses, but Master Tommytucker doesn’t need to lead,” said Nicholls.
“Cyrname doesn’t need to lead now either. They’ll probably help each other.”