Tag Archive for: Wise Eagle

Nicol calls early end to Wise Eagle’s campaign

Adam Nicol is looking forward to next season with stable star Wise Eagle after deciding to draw stumps for the current campaign.

Bought out of Tom Clover’s yard for just 7,000 guineas three years ago, the six-year-old has proved a real money-spinner for his connections, winning a jumpers’ bumper and 10 races on the Flat.

He started off 2023 by beating subsequent Chester Cup hero Metier in the lucrative Queen’s Cup at Musselburgh before filling the runner-up spot behind the top-class Coltrane in Ascot’s Sagaro Stakes.

An ambitious tilt at Gold Cup glory at the Royal meeting failed to pay off, with Wise Eagle losing a shoe and finishing last of the 12 runners, but Nicol remains confident there will be more big days in a horse who has already improved a staggering 40lb in the ratings.

“We’re going to pull the plug this season and get him ready for the Queen’s Cup at Musselburgh, which he won this year in early April,” said the Northumberland-based trainer.

“We were going to keep him for an autumn campaign and run him either at Doncaster (Doncaster Cup) or maybe in the Cesarewitch, but we’re just going to look after him and bring him back in December time and aim for Musselburgh, where he’s won four times.”

Reflecting on his performance in the Gold Cup, Nicol added: “He pulled a hind shoe off and was very sore the next day. It’s like us ripping our big toe nail off as he took a bit of foot with it as well.

“I think that happened quite early on, so that didn’t help, but Danny (Tudhope) was never happy with him and said he was hanging left from the minute the gates opened, which is not like him at all.

“We sent him down to Newmarket for a full MOT at the equine hospital and we found that he was just a bit jarred up in his front end.

“He’s absolutely fine now and he’ll be back next season. You’ve got to look after every horse obviously – but for a small yard like ours, when you’ve got a horse running in those type of races, we’re not going to flog him.

“There was a reason for the poor run in the Gold Cup, his run in the Sagaro Stakes was very good and we’ve seen what Coltrane has gone and done. There’s not many horses that have made a race of it with Coltrane, so if we can get this lad back right, I think there’s more races to be won with him.”

While Nicol’s initial focus will be on major staying races on the Flat next year, he is not ruling out a future switch to the jumping game, with Wise Eagle having finished second on his only start over hurdles to date in 2020.

He said: “I was thinking if he was in good form we could maybe give him a run in a novice hurdle in the autumn before the ground gets too heavy as he is a very good jumper.

“He’s very quick and has been from day one. I remember one day I schooled him over some tyres and I was like ‘Jesus, you’d think he was a handicapper’.

“That’s something to think about down the line. Every now and again we school him over barrels to keep his eye in and if he reaches his limit on the Flat or goes a bit sour and needs a change of scenery, we could look to go hurdling. We’ll just see what happens.”

Wise Eagle soaring in elite company with fairytale Gold Cup bid

A change of scenery was all the magic required to turn Wise Eagle from a 0-65 handicapper into an Ascot Gold Cup contender.

Trained by Adam Nicol and owned by six friends in the Seahouses Syndicate, the six-year-old has progressed through the ranks since being bought for 7,000 guineas at the 2020 Tattersalls Autumn Horses-In-Training Sale, improving by 40lb.

He has won 11 races since finishing runner-up on his stable debut as a 66-1 chance in Catterick juvenile hurdle and his latest run, when second to Coltrane in the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot, has connections dreaming of a fairytale return to the Berkshire track.

Former jockey Nicol, who has just eight horses in his Northumberland yard, insists there was no magic formula for the improvement.

“He has won 11 for us, but when he ran at Yarmouth for Tom Clover, I think he had blinkers. He was going everywhere bar forward and he just looked like he was hating life.

“Tom said when we bought him he wasn’t enjoying Newmarket and a change of scenery would help and get him on the beach.

“We got him here and we didn’t do anything. Didn’t check blood, didn’t even scope him. We just wormed him and then started riding him out.

“What we did do was give him plenty of turn-out. Every day, he gets a minimum of an hour every day, maybe more.

“I feel like even if you give them half an hour, they come in and switch off, because they have been ridden out, had their pick of grass and then they sleep and rest.

“Another thing we don’t do is gallop this horse a lot. We do a lot of steady work. I just think he enjoys it.

“I’m not really putting him under too much pressure. He comes alive at the races and gets that spring in his step. He certainly didn’t look out of place in the Sagaro Stakes, walking around the paddock he looked fantastic. He is a horse enjoying himself.”

Wise Eagle’s victories included the Queen’s Cup at Musselburgh on his seasonal debut and that form was further boosted when Metier, to whom he was conceding 4lb, won the Chester Cup.

“I got some buzz out of the Musselburgh race, beating the likes of Harry Fry and Paul Nicholls in the Queen’s Cup,” said Nicol, a relatively fresh face in the training ranks aged just 33 and who enjoyed memorable days in the saddle with top-class mare Lady Buttons.

Having finished four and three-quarter lengths behind Coltrane in the Sagaro, Nicol hopes the additional half-mile at the Royal meeting will help the son of Free Eagle.

“Some people say he looked like he was only just getting home at Ascot, but you have one turn of foot with this horse.

Musselburgh Races – Saturday April 8th
Danny Tudhope (centre) will partner Wise Eagle in the Ascot Gold Cup (Steve Welsh/PA)

“Push the button once and he will go for you – he has a hell of a turn of foot. But once he’s used that, he’s done enough and he’ll not come again for you.

“The Sagaro got a bit tactical. I would prefer 10 or 12 runners, where they go a nice, even gallop, which I’m hoping they usually do in a Gold Cup, and then just slot in. Danny (Tudhope) knows him inside out.

“I’m glad we ran him there. We know he handles the track and it was a case of running him in that to know if we were punching a bit, if he was good enough for that level. And I think he is. He definitely deserves a crack.

“I know the owners and Andrew Balding will be going there thinking Coltrane has a great chance, as Wise Eagle has never beaten him, but plenty of horses have reversed the form.

“We’ve already beaten Trueshan and it is an open race.”

Tudhope and trainer Adam Nicol hold the Queen's Cup after their Musselburgh success
Tudhope and trainer Adam Nicol hold the Queen’s Cup after their Musselburgh success (Steve Welsh/PA)

Though there was an option of heading to York and then Goodwood, the Wise Eagle’s owners have decided to take their chance at the showpiece meeting instead.

Nicol explained: “There is a mile-and-five Listed race at York. I thought there was a good chance of him winning that and York wouldn’t take as much out of him, and then we’d go to the Goodwood Cup.

“But the lads felt that you don’t forgo perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime chance of even placing in the Gold Cup, plus the prize-money is fantastic.

“I do think that the level he is running at, should he go and run a blinder again in the Gold Cup, I think maybe abroad there are winnable races. They are not going to be any better than the Gold Cup or the Sagaro, so we will think about that.”

Nicol is still pinching himself about the horse who has come from humble beginnings to be a flagship for his burgeoning yard and he hopes the journey will continue a while yet.

“This lad cost 7,000 guineas. We went down to Tattersalls during Covid, there was nobody really there,” he said.

“In normal circumstances, he would have been at least 15 or 20 grand. He was a winner over a mile, he was only three, not badly bred – and I just think, because of Covid, we were lucky to get him.

“His first win for us was in a jumpers’ bumper, and we have gone from running in a 0-65 at Catterick to running in the Ascot Gold Cup. It doesn’t happen very often, does it?

“It’s almost as good a story as the Dream Alliance film. Everyone likes the underdog to run well and we go there with no pressure.

“The owners want to have a day out. Half of them haven’t had a horse before. They are first-time owners.

“I think they think the game’s easy; buy a horse and make money. They haven’t had to pay a bill yet – the prize-money has paid for it all.”

All that is needed is a Hollywood-style ending, as was the case when unheralded chaser Dream Alliance rose from being reared on an allotment in South Wales to winning the Welsh National.

“Having a chance to have a horse good enough to run and be competitive doesn’t come along often,” added Nicol.

“We have one bullet to have a go – and it’s a good one – so we’ll have a good crack.”

Wise Eagle gives Adam Nicol a Saturday winner to savour

Adam Nicol celebrated the biggest success of his training career when Wise Eagle swooped down the outside to win the £100,000 tote Summer World Pool Queen’s Cup at Musselburgh.

Nicol made his name as the rider of Phil Kirby’s popular mare Lady Buttons, but when injury brought a premature end to his days in the saddle, he took out a licence to train.

Among the first of his horses stabled at his yard on the north-east coast at Seahouses was Wise Eagle, bought for a mere 7,000 guineas.

Danny Tudhope and trainer Adam Nicol receive their prizes
Danny Tudhope and trainer Adam Nicol receive their prizes (Steve Welsh/PA)

Nicol said of his 9-1 winner, who was ridden by Danny Tudhope: “He’s unbelievable. I was lost for words. They tried to interview me on TV and I couldn’t speak.

“We’re a family business, there’s me and my partner and we’ve only just taken on a member of staff. My dad does all the tractor work while my mum looks after our two-year-old child.

“We’re with the horses seven days a week so for him to pull this off like that is unbelievable, we bought this horse for 7,000 guineas because Tom Clover said he hated it in Newmarket and needed a change of scenery. He was the second horse we got in.

“At the time I didn’t even have a gallop in so we took him down to the beach at Bamburgh. We actually bought him as a dual-purpose horse, but I’ve told the lads until he gets exposed on the Flat we’ve got to carry on as there’s so much more money.”

Danny Tudhope with Wise Eagle
Danny Tudhope with Wise Eagle (Steve Welsh/PA)

Nicol went on: “He’s just improved and improved. We started running him in jumpers’ bumpers and he beat a good horse of Donald McCain’s called Dear Sire so I realised he might be decent. He won his first race off 67 and has won today off 98.

“He’s so versatile, I even took the cheekpieces off today as I worried he might be fresh so we’ve got those still up our sleeve. He’s won round Pontefract over two-mile-two yet he’s won over a mile and a half at Newcastle.

“We can look at the Northumberland Plate, the Chester Cup is an option, there’s the Copper Horse race at Royal Ascot and there’s a one-mile-six handicap at the Guineas meeting too. It’s brilliant to be thinking of races like that.

“The lads who own him, they are just builders and the like from the village. I told them to ring the club back home to get some extra crates in because they won’t be shutting tonight!”

Billy Loughnane with Gweedore
Billy Loughnane with Gweedore (Steve Welsh/PA)

Billy Loughnane continues to rack up landmark wins and having won the Brocklesby at Doncaster last weekend, ensured his first ride at Musselburgh was a winner.

Riding Gweedore for Katie Scott in the tote.co.uk Bet£5Get£20 Musselburgh Silver Arrow Handicap, despite being unshipped on the way to the start Loughnane bounced the 7-2 joint-favourite into an early lead and he made all to win by two and a quarter lengths to once more prove his liking for the course.

Clifford Lee enjoyed an armchair ride on Karl Burke’s Silky Wilkie (6-1) in the tote World Pool Scottish Sprint Cup Handicap, while Joe Fanning made all on Finn’s Charm (9-1) in the tote World Pool Scottish Sprint Cup Handicap