Tag Archive for: Tees Spirit

Tees Spirit poised for Curragh assignment

Tees Spirit is likely to attempt to continue his rapid rise through the sprinting ranks in the Paddy Power Rockingham Handicap at the Curragh on Sunday.

The four-year-old was an emotional winner of the Dash at Epsom on Derby Day for trainer Adrian Nicholls, as it came on the fifth anniversary of his father David’s death.

As his father earned the moniker of the Sprint King for winning major sprint handicaps -including five wins in the Dash – the poignancy of the result was lost on no one and Nicholls now has his sights set on another major prize.

“We’re looking to go over there without it being set in stone, but it is certainly on the cards,” said Nicholls.

“I suppose this is the Irish version of the Dash, but it’s a little bit of a different track.

“With no offence to Hamilton, I could have run him there on Thursday in a 0-90 with just under £10,000 to the winner so while you have a sprinter in this kind of form you’ve got to go and hunt the big pots as they don’t come around often.

“He’s gone up 6lb for winning by a head and don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to be a handicapper as they do get a bit of grief. I suppose it’s hard to assess a horse like him as he’s coming up through the ranks.

“That race, the Dash, every year the form works out. I know some people say now and again ‘that’s a bad Derby or that was a bad Guineas’ – you never hear that about the Dash, it’s always a strong race.

“He’s won three in a row now and I suppose he could have got more than six as the second was rated 98 and the Irish handicapper has him 1lb higher. You’d like to think he’s still got enough of a chance to win another big one.”

Tees Spirit returns after the Dash
Tees Spirit returns after the Dash (Steve Paston/PA)

Should all go well this weekend Nicholls is then looking at Goodwood’s Stewards’ Cup, another race the late Dandy Nicholls had a good record in.

“I did put him in the Stewards’ Cup and he’ll need to go up again to stand a chance of getting in that,” said Nicholls.

“He’s been doing all his winning over five (furlongs) this season, but he has won over six and with Goodwood being an easy six I wouldn’t be too bothered about that.”

He added: “Barry (McHugh) will go over to ride him, that’s the plan if he runs, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it I always think.”

Nicholls still savouring Tees’ poignant Dash triumph

Adrian Nicholls is in no rush to firm up future plans for Tees Spirit following his emotional success at Epsom on Derby day.

Exactly five years on from the death of his father Dandy, the North Yorkshire-based trainer was moved to tears after landing the Simpex Express ‘Dash’ Handicap – a race ‘sprint king’ Dandy Nicholls won on five occasions.

Tees Spirit is reported to have taken his exertions in his stride and how the handicapper reacts to his victory will have a bearing on where he heads next.

Nicholls said: “He was out in the paddock this morning, he’s eaten up and he’s bucking and kicking, so all good.

“It was obviously an emotional day with it being the anniversary of losing dad. He was in my thoughts anyway, but it doesn’t get any bigger than Derby day and it was a hell of an achievement by the horse.

“We’re a very small team and to get a winner like that was great.”

Tees Spirit is now unbeaten in three starts this season and Nicholls is thrilled with how much he has progressed as a four-year-old.

He added: “I’d love to be able to say I’ve done this and I’ve done that, but I haven’t – he just seems fresh and he really has improved.

Adrian Nicholls at Royal Ascot last year
Adrian Nicholls at Royal Ascot last year (Steven Paston/PA)

“I don’t know what the handicapper will think to his improvement, but we’ll see. Whatever he (the handicapper) does will kind of make the plans as to where he goes, I suppose.

“Whatever he does, without being blase, I’m not really that bothered as he’s won the Dash now and they don’t come round very often.

“I would have a look at the Stewards’ Cup. Six furlongs at Goodwood is the easiest six you’ll probably get, so if he was to go in another handicap, that would be one I’d have to have a look at. There’s also the Rockingham in Ireland (at the Curragh).

“As I say, whatever he does now is just a bonus really.”

Tees Spirit proves an emotional Dash winner

Adrian Nicholls achieved the remarkable feat of both training and riding a winner of the Simpex Express ‘Dash’ Handicap as Tees Spirit made most to land the ultra-competitive sprint at Epsom in the hands of Barry McHugh.

Having ridden Rudi’s Pet to success for his father David ‘Dandy’ Nicholls in 2002, Tees Spirit’s victory continued the family’s long association with the race, with Nicholls senior being successful five times between 1997 and 2009.

Tees Spirit was away well under McHugh and quickly grabbed the stands rail from 6-1 favourite Live In The Dream and the four-year-old never left that spot as he remained prominent all the way to the line.

He dug deep where it mattered most to prevail by a head from 50-1 shot Mountain Peak, who at one stage appeared the most likely winner of a typically rough renewal of this helter-skelter five-furlong event.

The game performance of the 10-1 winner was made even more special as it came on the five-year anniversary of the death of Nicholls’ father.

Nicholls said: “My old man loved it down here and I was lucky enough to win one for him. At the start of every year, he would always try to plan them out.

“When this lad won at Beverley, Baz (McHugh) was quite keen to go to Newcastle for the Gosforth Park Cup. I was adamant, especially after Nottingham, I was coming here.

“Everyone can see he is clearly improving. Baz has done an excellent job on him and Claire, my wife, rides him out and we are a small team.

“To come down here on a Derby day and win, I took it for granted when I was lucky enough – I wasn’t the best of riders – to ride the old man’s horses. I took it for granted riding these good horses, who are good horses. Now training them, I really appreciate what he actually did. He was a genius.”

He added: “It was five years ago to this day that he died, so it was quite poignant. I needed a little bit of help – I don’t know if anyone believes in all of that, but we’ve come down here and won and it is unbelievable.

“I always wanted to make him proud. To win a Dash, you can’t do much more. He always used to say it is our kind of Derby, as we never had any mile-and-a-half horses.”

Adrian Nicholls treads familiar path with Dash hope Tees Spirit

Adrian Nicholls is hopeful Tees Spirit can continue on his upward curve and maintain the family’s fine record in Saturday’s Simpex Express ‘Dash’ at Epsom.

The North Yorkshire handler is no stranger to success in the five-furlong handicap, having scored aboard Rudi’s Pet in 2002 for his late father, Dandy Nicholls, who won the race five times between 1997 and 2009.

Tees Spirit has won both his starts this term for owners Ingleby Bloodstock and The Ivy League, cruising to success at Beverley and Nottingham over a similar trip.

Nicholls said: “Like most of those races, when dad wasn’t winning it, he was finishing second.

“It was a race, a bit like the Ayr Gold Cup, that if you won on something, you knew exactly where you’d be going.

“He has come on and seems to have improved. He showed that at Beverley, when Barry McHugh won on him and obviously the second horse at Nottingham (Four Adaay) won again, beating one of mine, so it is like anything – you need a bit of luck and everything has to fall right.”

Tees Spirit has yet to encounter Epsom, where the sprint track runs markedly downhill until the last 100 yards and is reputed to be the fastest of its kind in the world.

Fire up the Band won the Dash for Dandy Nicholls under Richard Hughes in 2005
Fire up the Band won the Dash for Dandy Nicholls under Richard Hughes in 2005 (Sean Dempsey/PA)

Nicholls says the gelding, who has an official rating of 83 following his recent victory, is worthy of his place in the ultra-competitive sprint, won last year by Epsom specialist Mokaatil, who is back to defend his title for Ian Williams.

“It is the right time to step him up in class,” said the Sessay-based handler.

“There is only one Dash. With all due respect, if he gets beat, I can always go back to a 0-85, but there is only one Derby day.

“If they are good enough, they can go. Obviously there are a couple in there are coming into the race in good form, but he won as he liked the last time.

Adrian Nicholls hopes Tees Spirit can complete a hat-trick at Epsom
Adrian Nicholls hopes Tees Spirit can complete a hat-trick at Epsom (Steven Paston/PA)

“I rode him work on Tuesday morning and he is absolutely bouncing. The bookies don’t get it wrong too many times and he’s a 10-1 shot.

“When I was riding, I would always want to side with something that is in form or something that I thought is on the upgrade.

“There are some of them who we know, if they run to their mark, they will hard to beat. But some of them haven’t been.”

With isolated heavy showers a possibility ahead of the race, the 95-rated Fine Wine may well have ideal conditions and his trainer Scott Dixon thinks that the Dream Ahead gelding has the temperament to cope with the big crowd and hullabaloo of Cazoo Derby day.

“He is super straightforward,” said Dixon. “His knees rise and he is not overly-keen in his work. You get some sprinters like him and some are all ‘go-go-go’, but he’s very chill and he will do what you want him to do.

“He really does show up and in his work at home he is very relaxed. He has a lovely character is a good ‘doer’ and doesn’t really put a foot wrong.

“What targets he will have depends on how high he climbs from now. If he starts to get up to the high 90s or early 100s, then you could think about maybe stepping him up into black type races, whether it is Listed or Group Three.”

Live In The Dream and Ryan Moore (right) won at Chester last time
Live In The Dream and Ryan Moore (right) won at Chester last time (Tim Goode/PA)

Adam West saddles both Live In The Dream and Live in The Moment for Steve and Jolene De’Lemos.

The former, a son of Prince Of Lir, has won the last two of his five career starts, justifying favouritism in a competitive Chester handicap last time out.

“I’m really excited, we’ve been thrilled with Live In The Dream,” said West.

“Obviously, he’s a three-year-old and they don’t have the best strike-rate in the Dash, and it is quite hard taking on the older horse despite how good he looks, so everything would have to be right.

“But his battle-hardened half-brother (Live In The Moment) had a good blow at Goodwood last time and probably needed it after a little lay-off after Dubai. He’s back down to something near his last winning mark and should be really competitive.

“He got on well out in Dubai but got outclassed in a few of the Group races.

“He’s back down into handicap company now, so it would be really interesting and great for the horse to spark a revival. He would handle all the changes in pace and everything that race can throw at you.”