Nicholls ready for challenge
Henderson expected to be tough nut to crack
Last Updated: October 12, 2012 5:19pm
Paul Nicholls: Big numbers for the new season
The National Hunt season goes up a gear with Chepstow's Saturday card and champion trainer Paul Nicholls is relishing the challenges of the new campaign.
Neptune Collonges' win in the John Smith's Grand National saw off Nicky Henderson's challenge for the crown last term and this time around the master of Ditcheat goes to war with a huge team.
Writing in his exclusive column at www.betfair.com/paulnicholls he said: "We cantered 123 horses here on Tuesday - the most I ever have in a single morning in my 20 years here.
"And those record numbers are matched by my enthusiasm too. I honestly don't think I have looked forward to a season more than this, and quite a few people have said that they can hear that appetite in my voice and my manner. I am raring to go.
"Things will be different this year, with no Denman, Master Minded, Neptune Collonges - and what a story that was, winning the National as an 11yo having made a winning debut over hurdles for us as a 4yo at Chepstow in November 2005 - and with a decision on Kauto Star's future still to be made.
"And when people say that I am up against it with Nicky for the trainers' title this year, I am reminded of Alan Hansen's famous quote all these years ago that Manchester United couldn't win the title with kids. Well, we know what happened there - and we will see what happens this season.
"Every year, at this stage, I am asked about retaining the title and I say that it is not foremost in my mind - and every year people think I am talking rubbish!
"But I can tell you here and now that winning the trainers' title is not what gets me out of bed in the mornings. Winning races for my owners does that. I love winning, day-in, day-out, and having good horses competing in the all best races."
"I think I have about 40 new horses in total, and a few babies in the pre-training and satellite yards ready to come in and replace the summer horses when they go for their break," said Nicholls.
"As for the early season targets for the big races I have Silviniaco Conti pencilled in for the Charlie Hall, Join Together and Cristal Bonus for Down Royal, and Sanctuaire for the Tingle Creek.
"I could name you at least four possibles for the Betfair Chase next month, dependent on their form and fitness and the ground - Tidal Bay, Silviniaco Conti, Join Together and Cristal Bonus - and any of those could be aimed at Kempton on Boxing Day too, along with the likes of Kauto Stone and Al Ferof (who could possibly start off in the Peterborough Chase)."
Nicholls also told his Betfair column: "Don't forget the likes of Tataniano (set to reappear in a fortnight in the Chepstow race he won last year), and the five-year-old Edgardo Sol.
"Pacha Du Polder is being considered for the Old Roan and he could be a big improver this season.
"And Harry The Viking is being aimed at a £100,000 handicap chase at Ascot on November 3."