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Nicholls confident ‘exciting’ Enrilo can sparkle in Ladbrokes Trophy test

Paul Nicholls believes Enrilo can provide him with a sixth victory in the Ladbrokes Trophy on Saturday week following a pleasing workout at Newbury on Tuesday morning.

The Ditcheat handler won back-to-back renewals of the prestigious handicap as a rider aboard Broadheath and Playschool in the 1980s, while Strong Flow provided him with a first win as a trainer in 2003.

The brilliant Denman won under a welter burden of 11st 12lb in both 2007 and 2009 – and in Enrilo Nicholls believes he has another leading contender.

First past the post in last season’s bet365 Gold Cup before being demoted to third, the seven-year-old delighted his trainer after enjoying a morning spin alongside four stablemates under Harry Cobden.

Nicholls said: “I’m pleased with Enrilo and Harry was chuffed to bits with him – he couldn’t pull him up afterwards. He travelled nicely and it will put him spot-on for next week.

“He was unlucky at Sandown and it’s handy we don’t have a penalty by coming straight here fresh.

“What I like about him is that he stays and he has speed, which you need for the Ladbrokes Trophy.

“I was very lucky to ride the winner twice and it’s really exciting to have Enrilo this year.”

Enrilo was kept up to his work by Monmiral and Clan Des Obeaux, with the latter appearing in rude health ahead of his bid for a third victory in the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

Clan Des Obeaux (left) on his way to winning last season's Punchestown Gold Cup
Clan Des Obeaux (left) on his way to winning last season’s Punchestown Gold Cup (Brian Lawless/PA)

Nicholls decided against running his charge in this weekend’s Betfair Chase at Haydock in an attempt to ensure he is cherry-ripe for his hat-trick bid in the Boxing Day showpiece, where he is likely to meet his stablemate and defending champion Frodon.

“Clan is going for the King George and he’ll have another gallop next week,” said Nicholls.

“We thought Haydock would take the edge off him in bottomless ground and he’s so good fresh.

“We’ve got six weeks to get him ready for Kempton and want to go there in the best possible shape.

“Last year we had to be easy on him for two weeks after the Betfair Chase, whereas this year we can give him a month of hard graft and go there fresh.

“Frodon always keeps finding, but when Clan’s at his best he’s hard to beat.”

Monmiral caught the eye in his workout – finishing full of running under Harry Derham.

So impressive at Aintree in the spring, the four-year-old is due to return in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle on the same day as the Ladbrokes Trophy, although Newbury’s Gerry Feilden is an alternative.

Nicholls confirmed that if Monmiral does head for the north east, Sean Bowen is pencilled in for the ride, with Cobden due to partner Enrilo at Newbury.

AP McCoy at Newbury
AP McCoy at Newbury (Adam Davy/PA)

Of Monmiral, Nicholls said: “He worked very nicely and he’s a Clan Des Obeaux or Frodon of the future.

“We need rain for him. If it’s not soft at Newcastle, he could come here for the Gerry Feilden or it will have to be the International at Cheltenham.

“His first run will tell us where we are.”

The other two Nicholls inmates to work at Newbury were Kapcorse and Flash Collonges, with the latter ridden by Sir Anthony McCoy. Both are due to return to Berkshire for competitive action next week.

Nicholls pinpoints Enrilo at Ladbrokes Trophy

Paul Nicholls is priming Enrilo for a crack at the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury later this month.

The seven-year-old will be bidding to put the record straight following his demotion to third place for causing interference after being first past the post in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April.

Enrilo is 7-1 favourite with the sponsors for the prestigious staying handicap chase on November 27 after he was allotted 10st 10lb.

“The intention is to go straight to Newbury with Enrilo, it always has been the plan for him to go there fit, fresh and well,” said the Ditcheat trainer, who is seeking a fourth win in the race.

“He won at Newbury last season and obviously ran well at Sandown where he was a bit green in front. We have learned lessons in that he doesn’t want to be in front too soon, but he travels well in a race which will suit a race like the Ladbrokes Trophy.

“The Ladbrokes Trophy is always a hot race but we are trying to do our best to go there in great shape, with a great chance.

“The trip will be no worry at all for him. He has matured a bit this season and grown up.”

Nicholls’ other entries have alternative targets with Next Destination more likely to run in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Newbury 20, while Lalor is heading for the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on November 13.

Paul Nicholls rules out appeal against Enrilo demotion

Paul Nicholls has confirmed connections of Enrilo have decided against an appeal following his demotion in Saturday’s bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.

The seven-year-old passed the post in front in the traditional end-of-season feature for the 12-times champion trainer and newly-crowned champion jockey Harry Skelton.

However, the stewards deemed the 7-2 favourite had interfered with the Christian Williams-trained Kitty’s Light and placed him behind that rival in third.

Kitty’s Light was promoted to the runner-up spot, while Alan King’s Potterman, who passed the post in second, was named the winner.

Immediately after the race, Nicholls said: “It’s a bit of a strange result really, but it’s just frustrating because the best horse in the race by miles didn’t win the race.

“He did cause him some interference, but would that horse he interfered with have definitely won the race?

“I don’t know. I thought straight away after watching on my phone that he’d keep it – even though he’s caused interference – and that’s what I said to the owners.

“I’ve just said to the owners we’ll look at it and see if it’s worth an appeal.”

Potterman (left) and Kitty's Light at Sandown
Potterman (left) and Kitty’s Light at Sandown (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

However, the Ditcheat handler posted about the situation on Twitter on Sunday lunchtime.

The post read: “Just had a long discussion with the owners of Enrilo and we are as it were, going to take it on the chin, move on and not appeal the amended result in the @bet365 Gold Cup @Sandownpark yesterday and look forward to next season with him.”

Connections of Kitty’s Light also appear unlikely to challenge the result, but hope there may be a change to the rules going forward.

Williams remains adamant his charge would have won had he not been impeded on the run-in.

“We’re obviously disappointed, but I’m trying not to be too downbeat,” said the Welsh handler.

“We ran two horses in the race (Kitty’s Light and Cap Du Nord, finished fifth) and both have probably run career-bests and the jockeys were exceptional on the two of them.

“We’d love to have won a Whitbread (bet365 Gold Cup), but we’re at that stage of our career where we’re hoping we’re going the right way and we’ll be able to compete in many more. We’ll try to take the positives out of it and keep marching on.

“I just don’t think it’s right going forward. Three horses went into the stewards’ inquiry and the only horse who couldn’t win was the moral winner of the race, which doesn’t quite sit right.

“For us it’s not so much about yesterday, it’s about making sure things are right going forward for the good of racing.

“I wouldn’t have thought we’ll be appealing, but you’d like to think the BHA will act without us having to say anything – to make sure it’s fair for the next man.”

Trainer Christian Williams has high hopes for Kitty's Light
Trainer Christian Williams has high hopes for Kitty’s Light (David Davies/PA)

Williams is hoping compensation awaits for Kitty’s Light next season, adding: “He’s strengthened up all year and I’m looking forward to getting him back in next year as a bigger, stronger horse.

“He’s improving all the time and I think he’ll have learnt a lot yesterday. He’s got a great mind and we just don’t know where the ceiling is with him.

“He always finishes his races well and knows where the winning line is, which I think would have been proven again yesterday.”

Enrilo loses Sandown feature in stewards’ room

Harry Skelton and Paul Nicholls – who were crowned champion jockey and trainer on the afternoon – were denied a dream end to the season when Enrilo lost the bet365 Gold Cup in the stewards’ room, with Potterman the beneficiary.

It looked likely to be the perfect finale for both at Sandown as 7-2 favourite Enrilo made a bold bid for home with three to jump.

Enrilo made a bit of a hash of the second-last, giving his pursuers another chance. They included El Presente, Potterman and Kitty’s Light, as Rachael Blackmore’s mount Plan Of Attack began to weaken having travelled well for a long way.

When Skelton – who picked up the trophy for being leading rider for the first time before racing – got a big leap out of Enrilo at the last he looked to have sealed the deal.

However, despite the champion jockey having his whip in his left hand, Enrilo veered badly away from the rail with serious consequences for Kitty’s Light.

Christian Williams’ five-year-old had worked up a real head of steam after the final fence and was making ground rapidly on Enrilo, only to be stopped in his tracks.

To Enrilo’s credit, once straightened he did pick up again to cross the line first, with Alan King’s 12-1 chance Potterman, on the far side, beaten three-quarters of a length and another short head back to Kitty’s Light in third.

As the disqualified horse has to be placed behind the one it interferes with, Potterman was awarded the race with Kitty’s Light second and Enrilo only third.

King said: “The plan was to give him a prep, but we ran out of time. I haven’t seen the head on, but my view was that if it was in France we would definitely get it.

“I know it’s not the same here, but I’m certainly not going to complain.”

He added: “I’ve not seen James (Potter, joint-owner) since the race and a few weeks ago he did mention possibly putting him in over in America for the American Grand National, which would be an option.

“That was only mentioned a month ago in passing and I’ve not thought any more about it. He is very much a top of the ground horse. I’ve had a runner in America before, Penny Bridge ran in the Virginia Gold Cup in my first year of training. We will just enjoy today, though.”

Nicholls will consider his options, having felt sure Enrilo would keep the race.

He said: “Mine is a big, green horse and when they came to him away he went.

Paul Nicholls was surprised by the outcome of the stewards' inquiry into the bet365 Gold Cup
Paul Nicholls was surprised by the outcome of the stewards’ inquiry into the bet365 Gold Cup (John Walton/PA)

“He made a huge mistake two out, but then ran a bit green. I thought Harry rode a brilliant race and I’d told him not to get there too soon. He certainly wasn’t tired at the end, it was just through his greenness (that he wandered).

“It’s a bit of a strange result really, but it’s just frustrating because the best horse in the race by miles didn’t win the race. He was unlucky that he made a huge mistake at the second-last and still got back up and just like at Newbury he just ran a bit green and a bit open.

“He did cause him some interference, but would that horse he interfered with have definitely won the race?

“I don’t know. I thought straight away after watching on my phone that he’d keep it – even though he’s caused interference – and that’s what I said to the owners.

“I’ve just said to the owners we’ll look at it and see if it’s worth an appeal. We’ll look at the Ladbrokes Trophy next season.”

Williams, meanwhile, said: “I’m proud of my horse. He was the best horse in the race and got a right bang from Enrilo.

“He should have won. I think my horse will strengthen up over the summer and I might aim him at the Ladbrokes Trophy.

“It is tough to take, but I’m very proud of the horse and Jack (Tudor, jockey). We will try to put the disappointment behind us. Cap Du Nord ran an absolute blinder and Nick (Scholfield) gave him a great ride so the future is looking good.

“It was great to be in a finish with Paul Nicholls and Alan King, who are my two biggest supporters. It looks like he could be a Ladbrokes Trophy horse. He seems like he is good over extreme distances. I do think his jumping is getting sharper. We will see what he does over the summer, but it doesn’t look like we have got to the bottom of him.

“He could be a Grand National horse the way the fences are now.”