Nicholls set for first Ascot runner

American Trilogy heads for Ascot

Paul Nicholls plans to step into uncharted waters next week with a first runner at Royal Ascot. American Trilogy, who will run in either the Ascot Stakes or the Queen Alexandra Stakes, will be only his fourth ever runner on the flat. As yet his winning total is nil.

He’ll be setting out to emulate the achievements of rival jumps trainers Pipe, Hobbs McCain and Henderson, all of whom have trained the winners of major flat race handicaps over recent years.

Nicholls said, “We have entered American Trilogy in the Ascot Stakes on the Tuesday and the Queen Alexandra Stakes on the Saturday. He will run in one or other and we will take a look at both race and see what he’s up against and which we feel is the better option. His last start was over three miles and he stays very well, so at the moment I’d be looking towards the Saturday race, as it’s over two furlongs further. He has a mark of 90, which is an old mark and is high enough, but we thought we’d try it as he doesn’t like his hurdles, they just seem to get in the way.”

The Queen Alexandra, at two and three quarter miles, is the longest on the flat racing calendar, and in terms of distance won’t present any problems for American Trilogy. At least he won’t have to lump round with the 12 stone on his back in his last run without obstacles to jump. That was two months ago at Aintree in the Legends race, where he impressed jockey Mick Kinane when winning by a clear eight lengths.

Nicholls reflected on that race yesterday, saying, “He actually ran really well in the charity race at Aintree and, while this is a totally different kettle of fish, Mick said he should be able to win on the flat. Perhaps this is aiming a bit high, but hopefully he’ll enjoy himself and it should be a bit of fun.”

A win and Nicholls might be tempted to declare his Ascot ventures over. One runner, one winner wouldn’t be a bad record.

Your first 30 days for just £1