Altior could clash with Put The Kettle on at Sandown

Queen Mother Champion Chase heroine Put The Kettle On is among Altior’s potential rivals in the bet365 Celebration Chase at Sandown.

Having missed out on bidding for a hat-trick in the Champion Chase for the second year in succession following a late setback, Nicky Henderson’s Altior looks set to round off his campaign by bidding for a fourth win in the final Grade One of the season on Saturday.

The 11-year-old might not have things all his own way, however, with Henry de Bromhead’s mare Put The Kettle On set to be in opposition.

Aidan Coleman celebrates at Cheltenham with Put The Kettle On
Aidan Coleman celebrates at Cheltenham with Put The Kettle On (David Davies/Jockey Club)

The Stowaway mare claimed her second Festival success in the Champion Chase last month, following on from her victory in the Arkle Trophy 12 months earlier.

De Bromhead could also saddle Ornua, while Paul Nicholls has a couple of hopefuls in Dolos and Greaneteen.

Another leading contender is Dan Skelton’s Nube Negra, who inflicted a shock defeat on Altior in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton earlier in the season, before finishing second to Put The Kettle On at Cheltenham.

Gary Moore’s Editeur Du Gite, Ann Hamilton’s stable star Nuts Well and Sceau Royal from Alan King’s yard also feature.

Frodon and Tiger Roll could lock horns in the Grade Two bet365 Oaksey Chase.

Tiger Roll could be seen at Sandown on Saturday
Tiger Roll could be seen at Sandown on Saturday (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Winner of the King George at Kempton, the Nicholls-trained Frodon was last seen finishing an honourable fifth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, while Tiger Roll was fourth on his latest outing in Aintree’s Betway Bowl.

Grade Two honours are also up for grabs in the bet365 Hurdle, in which Goshen is the headline act.

The five-year-old hung his chance away in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last month and connections will be hoping he can bounce back to his best on his return to a right-handed track.

He could be taken on by the last two winners of the race in Call Me Lord and Younevercall, among others.

Russell mulling Punchestown option for Aintree hero Ahoy Senor

Ahoy Senor may be heading to the Punchestown Festival this month as Lucinda Russell ponders one more outing over hurdles for her impressive Aintree winner.

Russell has made no secret of the intention that British point-to-point graduate Ahoy Senor’s future will lie over fences as of the start of next season.

But after the six-year-old’s shock yet decisive success from a field of top staying novices in Grade One company at Aintree last week, his Scottish trainer will consider heading to Punchestown for the Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle on April 28.

Ahoy Senor was among a clutch of British entries published on Monday for the five-day meeting, which will feature many of the stars of this spring’s major Festivals in a finale to the National Hunt season.

“It won’t do him any harm to get a bit more experience,” said Russell.

“But he really is a (future) chaser, and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”

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A decision over whether to travel has therefore yet to be made.

Russell added: “It’s 50-50 really. We’ve just got him back into work and we’ll find out how he is.

“I’d prefer it to be ground on the soft side. So no firm decision has been made (yet) – we’ll see how we get on over the next week.

“Maybe it’s being a bit greedy – but then again, if he is in good form, he is a racehorse and that’s what he’s been bought to do.”

So far, three days after the lightly-raced Ahoy Senor’s seven-length win from Bravemansgame, he appears to have recovered well from what was his third run of the campaign – and just the second hurdles start of his career.

Russell said: “He’s fine. He’s a remarkable horse really – very inexperienced race-wise, but just a very straightforward horse to deal with.

“We knew he was a very good horse. We only bought him in the autumn, and he missed out on the early-season novices.

“He’s been very well-prepared, and had a full season in training before he ran in his point-to-point – so we always knew physically he was going to cope with it.

“It was just whether he would mentally – but he is just very straightforward.”

Elsewhere among the Punchestown entries, Henry de Bromhead’s champions Minella Indo, Put The Kettle On and Honeysuckle are all in the reckoning – and Monkfish and Envoi Allen are on course to clash too in a test of their superstar potential.

Gold Cup hero Minella Indo is one of 11 currently in the Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup – along with Willie Mullins’ Al Boum Photo, dual winner of Cheltenham’s signature event, and his stablemate Kemboy, successful in the most recent edition of this race in 2019.

Gold Cup winner Minella Indo may be in action again at Punchestown
Gold Cup winner Minella Indo may be in action again at Punchestown (David Davies/Jockey Club)

The opposition for Queen Mother Champion Chase heroine Put The Kettle On, in the William Hill Champion Chase, includes Dan and Harry Skelton’s Nube Negra – who got closest to the mare in second at Cheltenham – and Mullins’ Chacun Pour Soi. The latter’s stablemate and Ryanair Chase winner Allaho and Joseph O’Brien’s Aintree Grade One star Fakir D’oudairies also hold alternative Gold Cup entries.

On the same card, which opens the meeting, dual Cheltenham Festival winners Monkfish – unbeaten over fences for Mullins – and De Bromhead’s Envoi Allen, who lost his perfect record when falling in the Marsh Novices’ Chase last month, are among 12 in the Dooley Insurance Champion Novice over an extended three miles.

Gavin Cromwell’s Flooring Porter, winner of Cheltenham’s Stayers’ Hurdle, tops 25 possibles in Punchestown’s Grade One equivalent – and Envoi Allen has the option of dropping back to two miles, with both Mullins’ Energumene and Nicky Henderson’s Arkle and Aintree hero Shishkin among the potential opposition in the Ryanair Novice Chase.

The Paddy Power Champion Hurdle could feature a rematch between Honeysuckle and Henderson’s 2020 Cheltenham winner Epatante – who was third this year – with her stablemate Buveur D’Air and Gary Moore’s Goshen also potential British challengers.

Comeback kid Tiger rolls back years at age of 11

The Wednesday of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival was the scene of an emphatic comeback as Tiger Roll stormed to victory in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase.

The 11-year-old dual Grand National hero has been out of sorts since finishing second in the race last term, but announced himself right back to his best with an 18-length dismissal of his old foe Easysland.

The complexion of the feature Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase had altered minutes before it began when title-holder Politologue was a late withdrawal – and Henry de Bromhead’s Put The Kettle On went on to reverse this season’s form with Chacun Pour Soi and prevail by half a length.

Monkfish was regarded as unbeatable in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, but perhaps showed himself a little more fallible than previously thought as he put in a slightly patchy round of jumping before triumphing nonetheless by six and a half lengths – a more modest margin than many expected for the 1-4 favourite.

Heaven Help Us, based at the stable of greyhound trainer Paul Hennessy, was a 33-1 winner of the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle, while the concluding Weatherbys Champion Bumper was taken by the undefeated Sir Gerhard – making it a Grade One double for Rachael Blackmore after the earlier success of Bob Olinger.

Picture of the day

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Rachael Blackmore celebrates victory in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper aboard Sir Gerhard
Rachael Blackmore celebrates victory in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper aboard Sir Gerhard (Michael Steele/PA)

Quote of the day

“If I could bottle what she has I wouldn’t have to ride again, I’d sell it and be a rich man” – Aidan Coleman on Put The Kettle On after their victory in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Performance of the day

Tiger Roll and jockey Keith Donoghue clear a fence on the way to winning the Glenfarclas Chase
Tiger Roll and jockey Keith Donoghue clear a fence on the way to winning the Glenfarclas Chase (David Davies/PA)

Tiger Roll looked totally revitalised as he revisited some of his best form with an easy victory in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, becoming the only horse to take the race three times in the process. Sent to the front of the field from the beginning, he handled the loops of the cross-country track like the seasoned veteran he is and was left completely unchallenged as he turned the final bend and cruised up the hill. Unbelievably, that is now five Festival wins for the great horse.

Ride of the day

Nick Scholfield riding Sky Pirate (yellow) clears the last to win The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase
Nick Scholfield and Sky Pirate (yellow) clear the last to win the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Nick Scholfield, recently recovered from a complex leg break, picked a perfect path aboard Sky Pirate through a packed field in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase. Travelling sweetly before meeting the final bend, the eight-year-old was sent to lead after the last fence and had enough in reserve to battle up the hill and hold off the challenging Entoucas.

What’s next?

Paisley Park ahead of the 2020 Stayers' Hurdle
Paisley Park will be back to try to reclaim his Stayers’ Hurdle title (David Davies/PA)

The Thursday of the Festival is when the stamina stars come to the fore in the three-mile Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle. Paisley Park would be a fairytale winner if he were to recreate the performance that won him the race in 2019, but Denise Foster’s Sire Du Berlais poses a threat alongside 2020 champion Lisnagar Oscar. Elsewhere, the unbeaten Envoi Allen is the headline act of the Marsh Novices’ Chase – with the Ryanair Chase also promising a real contest as the Willie Mullins trio of Min, Melon and Allaho do battle.

Put The Kettle On sees off Chacun Pour Soi in Champion Chase thriller

Last year’s Arkle heroine Put The Kettle On beat the boys again in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.

A surprise winner at the Festival 12 months ago, Henry de Bromhead’s mare had stretched her unbeaten record at the track to three on her first start of the current campaign in November.

But despite her excellent record in the Cotswolds, she looked to have her work cut out on her return, having proved no match for Chacun Pour Soi at Leopardstown over Christmas.

Put The Kettle On was in front for much of the contest, but looked booked for minor honours after 8-13 favourite Chacun Pour Soi hit the front approaching the final fence.

However, Aidan Coleman’s mount fought back on the run-in – devouring the hill once again to get up and score by half a length, becoming the first mare to win the two-mile showpiece.

Dan Skelton’s Nube Negra finished strongly to claim the runner-up spot from the Willie Mullins-trained Chacun Pour Soi.

Coleman said: “I jumped off to get a good start and wasn’t really sure where I’d sit as this was her biggest test, and I didn’t know if she’d be quick enough to be bang there.

“She was very good over the first three or four fences, and after I’d jumped four I was fairly confident that I’d stay there until at least turning in and then what will be will be.

“I had the partner with the attitude and ability. It’s fantastic.

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“I don’t know what is about Cheltenham with her as this is the only place I’ve ridden her. As long as she can come here a couple of times a year and do the business we’re happy enough!

“If I could bottle what she has I wouldn’t have to ride again – I’d sell it, and be a rich man.”

He added: “These championship races – the Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase, the Stayers’ Hurdle and the Gold Cup – are the races you grow up watching.

“If you’re lucky enough to ride in them it’s fantastic, and if you’re lucky enough to win one it’s even better.

“It was very special – pulling up was nearly emotional, because we all love these horses and we do it day in, day out for them.

Aidan Coleman gives Put The Kettle on a well-deserved pat
Aidan Coleman gives Put The Kettle on a well-deserved pat (David Davies/Jockey Club)

“When you ride something that loves it and wants to win as much as this, it’s just a pleasure.

“It brings you back to your roots and why you wanted to get into the game – and that’s the love of the animal.”

De Bromhead was winning the race for the third time, after Sizing Europe in 2011 and Special Tiara in 2017.

The Waterford trainer said: “She’s an incredible mare, I’m delighted for the owners, it’s just brilliant, the stuff you dream about.

“She’s so tough and Aidan was brilliant on her. He really asked her at the last three and that probably won him the race.

“I don’t know what it is about this place. A couple of weeks ago she just wasn’t herself, but we freshened her up as much as we could and she seemed much better. When she arrived her she was what we expected. She’s a bit mad actually.

Aidan Coleman can hardly believe it
Aidan Coleman can hardly believe it (David Davies/Jockey Club)

“I have to congratulate everyone at home, but especially Andrea who looks after her and puts up with her antics every day, it’s special for her. She’s quite wild at home, she’s a great character.

“Mid-February I was probably leaning towards running in the Mares’ Chase, but we all discussed it and I looked at the stats for the previous year’s Arkle winner in this and they are ridiculous so we said we’d give it a lash and see.

“Winning the Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase with mares especially, it’s the stuff of dreams. I’m just delighted.”

Skelton said of runner-up Nube Negra: “It’s gutting to be placed again, but nothing went wrong, apart from standing on his heel at the back of the last, which cost us a tiny bit. He’s travelled round super, jumped brilliantly and came up the hill, which was never in doubt.”

His rider Harry Skelton added: “He ran an unbelievable race. The winner was great, and she’s a top-class mare, but we are very proud of our horse.

“He jumped really well, travelled all of the way, and finished his race off. He just lost his footing after the last, but that didn’t cost us anything really. He’s still young and so hopefully he’s got a lot in front of him. He’s proved he’s top-class, if anyone had any doubts.”

Mullins said of the Paul Townend-ridden Chacun Pour Soi: “Paul’s feedback was that he ran a bit flat, which looked obvious. I’ve not seen any other reason to say that is not right. It’s disappointing. He had every chance to win the race but he didn’t.

“Usually in the middle of a race Paul gets a feel for him that he has plenty in the tank but he didn’t get that feel at all today. He thought he was flat from early on. I don’t know why he was like that.

“Paul more or less said before they turned up the hill that he knew he wasn’t going as well as he does at home or giving him the feel at home so I’m not sure I’m taking the hill as a big problem for him.

“It was him on the day that was the problem not the hill. Chacun Pour Soi was beaten by a course specialist so maybe he was just beaten by a better horse on the day.”

Cheltenham looms for Aspire Tower

Aspire Tower is likely to head straight to Cheltenham for the Unibet Champion Hurdle.

Henry de Bromhead’s five-year-old finished second at the Festival last March in the Triumph Hurdle to Burning Victory.

This season, he began by beating Abacadabras at Down Royal before running a meritorious race when second to Sharjah at Leopardstown over Christmas.

He does hold an entry at the Dublin Racing Festival this weekend, but will not be taking it up.

“Aspire Tower will probably go straight to Cheltenham,” said De Bromhead.

“He’s still a baby, so we backed off him since Christmas – he’s filling out again and looks brilliant.”

Last season’s Arkle winner Put The Kettle One may run in the inaugural mares’ chase – but will also have an entry in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

She won at Cheltenham in November before finishing third to Chacun Pour Soi last time out.

“Put The Kettle On didn’t get an entry at Leopardstown and is aiming for the spring as well,” said De Bromhead.

“We’ll probably enter her in the Mrs Paddy Power Mares Chase (over two and a half miles) at Cheltenham, as well as the Champion Chase.

“You could argue her form is much better over two miles, but I think we should definitely have her entered in it (the mares’ chase).”

Put The Kettle On set to tackle Altior at Kempton

Henry de Bromhead is undeterred by the prospect of taking on Altior with his Arkle winner Put The Kettle On in Kempton’s Desert Orchid Chase.

The mare returned with a gutsy win in the Shloer Chase back at Cheltenham in November, and is set for another trip across the Irish Sea from De Bromhead’s County Waterford base on December 27.

“I’d say we’re pretty much going there – the last time I spoke with the owners we pretty much confirmed it, and I don’t see any reason to change, but obviously we’d have preferred Altior to have run in the Tingle Creek,” said De Bromhead.

“Her novice campaign was brilliant. She came from the summer season, and plenty have done it, but you are always under the radar when you do that. We had Notebook in the race as well, and he had won two Grade Ones on his way to the Arkle, so everyone was focused on him.

“To be fair to the mare, she’d won over course and distance and she loves it there. She had a fantastic year – and to go back and put up such a tough performance in the Shloer, she’s brilliant, and we’re lucky to have her.

“She’s very tough – bar coming to the last I could never see her winning the Shloer, but it’s testament to how tough she is and a brilliant ride from Aidan (Coleman).

“He has a great partnership with her, so he’ll be riding her again.”

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Special Tiara was twice a winner of the Desert Orchid Chase
Special Tiara was twice a winner of the Desert Orchid Chase (John Walton/PA)

Put The Kettle On is yet another classy two-mile chaser off the De Bromhead conveyor belt which includes two champion chasers in Sizing Europe and Special Tiara, twice a winner of the Desert Orchid.

He added: “Special Tiara was brilliant. The one that stands out is when Barry Geraghty rode him (2014) – the jumps the pair of them put in together were phenomenal really.

“There were ooos and ahhs from the crowd – they were incredible. He was brilliant, he won a Champion Chase and was placed year after year.”

Closer to home, De Bromhead will also be overseeing a strong raiding party on Leopardstown’s big Christmas meeting. But stable star Honeysuckle will not be there, instead waiting for the Irish Champion Hurdle.

Honeysuckle will not be running over Christmas
Honeysuckle will not be running over Christmas (PA Wire)

“Honeysuckle had the entry for Christmas, but it was only in case something silly happened in the Hatton’s Grace,” added De Bromhead.

“She’s definitely aiming towards the Irish Champion Hurdle at the Dublin Festival.

“Notebook will run – all being well he’s in great form and we’ll have a go at him (Chacun Pour Soi) on the 27th at Leopardstown (Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase).

“I had to put his run at Cheltenham down to how hard a race he had in the Irish Arkle with Cash Back, because they both tailed off.

“He came back all guns blazing the other day at Naas. I know he can jump a little right, but I don’t think you can blame his run in the Arkle just on that.

“He has run twice there and was possibly out of his depth the first year over hurdles, so I don’t want to say he doesn’t suit Cheltenham – I just think it was the hard race in the Irish Arkle.

“He was a dual Grade One winner last year, so he’d be bang there with the other good two-milers I’ve trained. He’s got that crazy streak jumping that a lot seem to have, and it really suits him. He’s rated over 160 now, so he’s bang there with them.”

With Minella Indo a hot favourite for the Savills Chase over three miles, he is likely to be joined by stablemate A Plus Tard.

“It’s something I just need to confirm with his owners, but the last time we spoke we were thinking of stepping him up in trip,” De Bromhead said of the latter.

“We’ll be monitoring the ground as well – if it was very soft we might reconsider the two-mile race he won last year.

“At the moment, we’re learning towards the three-mile race.”

Kettle too hot for Shloer Chase rivals

Last season’s Arkle winner Put The Kettle On maintained her unbeaten record at Cheltenham when collaring Duc Des Genievres in the Shloer Chase.

Normally a front-runner, Put The Kettle On’s rider Aidan Coleman was content to let Duc Des Genievres set a brisk early pace on his first run for Paul Nicholls, but Put The Kettle On and Defi Du Seuil closed in coming down the hill.

Harry Cobden kicked again on Duc De Genievres and looked sure to hold on, but Henry de Bromhead’s mare stuck to her task gamely and the 7-4 chance ended up winning going away by a length and a quarter.

The winner was given a 12-1 quote by Coral for the Champion Chase in March.

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Odds-on favourite Defi Du Seuil was pulled up early in the straight, having been behind in the early stages following a mistake at the first, before finding little for pressure at the finish.

Coleman said: “She has done very well. She has got a massive heart this filly as she hated the ground. She was never happy the whole way.

“It was a testament to her ability and her attitude as it was a hard race for her. Since November last year, she has only run once, so she might be a touch rusty. When I got on top, I won well.

“If you look at the form of the Arkle Trial (that Put The Kettle On won last year) it doesn’t stand up, but if you look at the Arkle, it is probably strong form.

“She must be in a good place to win if after two fences I’m not happy, as it is a long way to go in a championship race. The previous Arkle winner was second and everyone else was in another parish, so fair play to her.

“Yes, she has three from three here, but I think that is coincidence – if they were run anywhere else she would have won. She has won on all sorts of tracks, but if you are going to like a course, and especially be a two-miler, the Old Course at Cheltenham is the place to be, isn’t it?

“I think she can (take the step up to be a Queen Mother horse). Whether that means winning or being competitive, time will tell.

“She is value for more today, considering the feel I got all the way round. She will be there in the money, whether she is first or fourth you don’t know. She is a credit to connections.”

Put The Kettle On with Aidan Coleman
Put The Kettle On with Aidan Coleman (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Nicholls said of the second: “I was a bit nervous about the ground. I think on better ground he would finish better.

“A flatter track would suit him better, but I wasn’t expecting that as I didn’t know what to expect. I would say watching that, slightly better ground, he would bounce off it. It was an almighty run.”

Philip Hobbs said of Defi Du Seuil: “He just got very tired very quickly after jumping the second last and Dickie (Richard Johnson) just thought there was no point after that jumping the last, but he seems to be OK after the race.”

Johnson added: “Defi du Seuil was going well. However, he was very tired jumping the second last. I just thought it was the right thing to do to pull him up after that, but he does seem to be fine after the race.”

Defi to defend Shloer title

Defi Du Seuil faces five rivals as his bids for a second win in Cheltenham’s Shloer Chase.

Philip Hobbs’ stable star is reappearing after a mysterious flop in the Queen Mother Champion Chase in March when it appeared he had been left with little more than a penalty kick following the late withdrawals of Altior and Chacun Pour Soi.

However, in just about the only disappointment for the now-retired jockey Barry Geraghty during the 2020 Festival, Defi Du Seuil never looked like winning at any stage and was only fourth to Politologue.

Previously last season, Defi Du Seuil had won Sunday’s race – beating Politologue – the Tingle Creek and the Clarence House, taking his Grade One tally over hurdles and fences to seven.

He faces last year’s impressive Arkle winner Put The Kettle On, from Henry de Bromhead’s yard, who won at this meeting 12 months ago and never ran again before the Festival.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Riders Onthe Storm, so impressive in the Ascot Chase but a faller in the Ryanair, is yet another Grade One winner in attendance.

Brian Ellison’s Forest Bihan reappears for the first time since winning last season’s Old Roan Chase at Aintree, with injury keeping him off the track, while Harry Whittington’s Rouge Vif is back at Cheltenham after an impressive win in a handicap last month.

Duc Des Genievres, the Arkle winner in 2019 who is having his first run for Paul Nicholls, completes the field.

Twiston-Davies’ Ballyandy heads the weights in the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle.

Second to Sceau Royal, who has franked the form since, in the Welsh Champion Hurdle on his first run of the campaign, he is giving upwards of 8lb to all his rivals.

They include Alan King’s pair Edwardstone and Harambe, Tom Lacey’s Sebastopol, Paul Nicholls’ Thyme White and Sir Psycho and the sole Irish runner Tudor City.

Ellison’s Cormier, Dan Skelton’s Proschema and the Olly Murphy duo of Hunters Call and Strong Glance are others fancied in a strong heat.

Colin Tizzard’s promising The Big Breakaway is scheduled to have his first run over fences in the opening Novices’ Chase.

Put The Kettle On set for return to Cheltenham

Put The Kettle On is set to kick off her campaign in Sunday’s Shloer Chase at Cheltenham.

Henry de Bromhead’s six-year-old posted a career-best effort when springing a 16-1 surprise in the Arkle at the Festival in March, adding to a previous success over two miles at Cheltenham’s Open meeting last year.

Put The Kettle On is again due to line up at the fixture, with the mare counting among seven entries for the Grade Two heat.

De Bromhead said: “She’s in great form and is due to go over to Cheltenham for the Shloer Chase. She seems to love it over there, so she’s going over there this weekend.

“She’s in mighty form, working well, so we’re looking forward to that.”

Sceau Royal, winner of Saturday’s Elite Hurdle for Alan King, could switch back to fences for the race, while the Philip Hobbs-trained Defi Du Seuil, who was a huge disappointment in the Champion Chase in the spring, is in line make his seasonal bow.

Rouge Vif was a winner at last month’s Showcase meeting and could return to Cheltenham for Harry Whittington, with Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Ascot Chase hero Riders Onthe Storm, the Brian Ellison-trained Forest Bihan and 2019 Arkle winner Duc Des Genievres, who is now with Paul Nicholls, completing the possibles.