Paul Nicholls knows Politologue has work cut out with Altior
Trainer admits Nicky Henderson’s star jumper will be hard to beat in Champion Chase
Trainer Paul Nicholls is interviewed during a stable visit to his yard at Manor Farm Stables, Ditcheat. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
The seven-year-old has enjoyed a fine season so far, winning the Haldon Gold Cup, Tingle Creek and Desert Orchid Chase, but found Nicky Henderson’s returning superstar a comfortable four lengths too good in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury on Saturday.
Nicholls said: “He ran really well. He will come on a little bit for the race, but he won’t come on that much.
“It was not ideal to be making the running. One thing he did in the Tingle Creek was he got a good lead and travelled really well and was able to use his jumping to a lot more of an advantage than he did on Saturday.
“He kept jumping up the straight, but the other horse was better than him, it was as simple as that.
“I think Altior will be incredibly hard to beat and I don’t know how we can turn it round, to be honest with you. It is a different track, different ground, on a different day, but we have got it all to do.
“He has won over two-five and two-three and we might end up having to go back up in trip one day. I don’t see a problem with going two-and-a-half on decent ground, but he will definitely go in the Champion Chase.”
On the same Newbury card, Saphir Du Rheu made his comeback when finishing last of three to Native River in the Denman Chase, on what was his first start since falling in the Grand National at Aintree last April.
Nicholls said: “He ran okay, he just got tired. He still looks huge and has been hard to get fit. Because of the injury we had to start late on October 1st and it has been a bit of a rush. He always thrives on what he is doing and I knew he would need the run on Saturday.
“The ground getting testing didn’t help, either. To three out he travelled well and I thought at four out ‘here we go’, but he just got tired. I wouldn’t mind another run before Cheltenham, but I’m just not going to get it.
“To run well in Gold Cup you have to be mega fit, which might go against us a fraction. He will improve enormously for that run and will move forward on better ground.
“He was fifth in it [Gold Cup] last year, not beaten far. I think Might Bite is the one we have all got to beat and from what I’ve seen he is head and shoulders above everything else at the moment.
“Native River was very good on Saturday, but was that a Gold Cup-winning performance? I don’t know. The Irish form is cloudy and mixed. I think Might Bite has a huge amount of talent and is the one we have got to beat. He keeps winning and that’s what you want.”
Nicholls also had news of Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase runner-up Cyrname.
He said: “He ran very well the other day, but is slightly better going right-handed and I’m not convinced he wants to be going to Cheltenham yet. He will probably go to the Pendil at Kempton, then we will think what to do with him.
“He is only a young horse, that is progressing rapidly and Cheltenham might not be the right thing for him this year. Next year I think he will be decent. I think the Kempton race will suit him, then we will look after him.”