Leading Exeter Trainer Paul Nicholls Set for Big Cheltenham Festival

Liv Butler
Authored by Liv Butler
Posted Wednesday, February 14, 2024 - 6:24pm

Fourteen-time Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls tops the leading trainer standings at Exeter this season. He is on course to end the 2023/24 with the most victories at the Devon-based racecourse once again.

Nicholls is having an excellent campaign across the UK, and he heads into this year’s Cheltenham Festival meeting with some strong entries across the biggest week of the season in the sport.

The Gold Cup Is the Race Nicholls Will Want to Win the Most

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the most prestigious race in Jumps racing, so it is the contest Nicholls will want to win more than any other at the Cheltenham Festival. His talented chaser Bravemansgame finished second in the race in 2023 behind Galopin Des Champs.

Bravemansgame is 8/1 in the betting to go one place better this year and reverse the form with the defending champion. Those backing the 2023 runner-up can pick a Cheltenham betting offer this year, with Midnite and Livescore Bet both offering a £20 free bet to new customers who stake £10.

Nicholls’ former King George VI Chase winner has been running consistently well this season without success. He has finished second in the Charlie Hall Chase, Lancashire Chase, and King George VI Chase.

The 170-rated chaser will be bidding to give his trainer a record-marching fifth victory in the Blue Riband Jumps contest. His last triumph came in 2009 when Kauto Star regained his crown in the race.

Stage Star Has Big Chance in Ryanair Chase

Nicholls celebrated success at the Cheltenham Festival in 2023 with Stage Star, who won the Turners Novices’ Chase. That was the fourth triumph of his novice campaign and his first at Grade One level.

Stage Star has appeared twice so far in his second season over fences. He prevailed at Cheltenham at the November Meeting in a premier handicap contest. Unfortunately for those involved in the horse, he was unable to successfully follow up on New Year’s Day at Cheltenham, as he was pulled up in his latest assignment.

The eight-year-old’s assignment in the Ryanair Chase has been made easier now as two-time winner Allaho has been ruled out of the race through injury. He is set to take on two of the leading chasers, Banbridge and Envoi Allen, in Ireland.

Stay Away Fay Has Shown Potential to Be Star of Future

Last season’s Grade One-winning hurdler Stay Away Fay made his debut over fences at Exeter earlier in the campaign in the Silver Bowl Novices’ Chase. Nicholls’ runner jumped well and prevailed by just under two lengths.

The Ditcheat team opted to run their talented chaser in the Grade Two Esher Novices’ Chase at Sandown, and he rewarded them for their confidence in him by scoring in the 3m race, making all the running.

Stay Away Fay’s unbeaten record over fences came to an end on Trials Day at Cheltenham where he had to settle for third place of six runners in the Cotswold Chase which was won by Capodanno. He will be back in novice company at the Festival where he is considered one of the strongest contenders for the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

Nicholls was the leading trainer at the Cheltenham Festival in 2009. With strong chances on each of the four days this year, he could end the week as the top trainer once again.

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