Nicholls aims for freshman awards

Paul Nicholls getting ready Frodo, Clan Des Obeaux and Greeneteen for the Dublin Racing Festival as the 12-time champion trainer looks to take on the best names in Irish hurdle racing at his home turf in Leopardstown next month.

Paul Nicholls lines up three first-year winners for the Dublin Racing Festival (Picture: Focusonracing)

Nicholls won the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup as both a jockey and trainer – aboard Playschool in 1998 and then with Neptune Collonges in 2009 – and both Frodon and Clan Des Obeaux are among the 18 entries in the showpiece competition this time Saturday, February 5.

Nicholls is also set to lead the prospect of Queen Mother Champion Chase Greeneteen in the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase on Sunday’s showpiece match.

Assistant coach Harry Derham said: “That’s the plan at the moment. Both Frodo and Greeneteen prefer a more solid surface, and the field run looks good – so that’s the plan.

“As Paul always says, you have to have the right horses in the right races and there’s no point in going out there for the fun of it, really.

“In the form of Greaneteen and Frodo – and with the Clan Des Obeaux, who are also entered in the race that Frodo participates in – you obviously have very intelligent horses, first-year animals, and the conditions of these races in terms of terrain and the track will suit them well, so if you have the appropriate horse then it is wise to take them on.

“There’s no point going there with the wrong animal, that’s why they’re registered.”

The Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup, worth €250,000, has the carrot of a €150,000 bonus to winning connections if their horse can also clinch the 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Only three horses have achieved such a feat – Jodami (1993), trained in Britain, Imperial Call (1996), trained in Ireland, and most recently in 2017, when Jessica Harrington’s Sizing John did the double.

Conqueror King George VI Chase of Clan Des Obeaux Tornado flyer part of an eight-strong entry from Willie Mullins, who also entered last year’s winner Kemboy, Melon and Asterion Forlonge.

Galvin, won the Savills Chase at Leopardstown at Christmas, Mount Ida, delta work and Run Wild Fred are part of Gordon Elliott’s team, while Minella Indo and Eklat De Rire have been signed by Henry de Bromhead.

Mullins also has a strong hand in the Dublin Chase with allaho, Hollow of Ferny, rowdy and the winner 2020 and 2021 Everyone For Himself among the nine horses he entered.

Tingle Creek winner Greeneteen leads the British contingent, which also includes Gite Editor, coached by Gary Moore and Cheltenham Festival striker Jonjo O’Neill sky pirate.

star mare Honeysuckle leads the dozen entries for the Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle as she bids to become only the third horse after Istabraq and Hurricane Fly to win the race more than twice.

She scored a hat-trick of victories in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle during her seasonal reappearance at Fairyhouse in November.

The eight-year-old, owned by Kenny Alexander, is looking to extend her remarkable unbeaten winning streak to 14 under Rachael Blackmore before heading to the Cheltenham Festival in March to defend her Champion Hurdle crown.

The Spring Juvenile Hurdle attracted 14 participants, including Golden thread, unbeaten in three hurdle starts for Elliott, and another Mullins-trained Leopardstown Christmas Festival winner Icaré Allen.

First and second in the Racing Post Novice Chase on the Christmas course, Mullins’ Hollow of Ferny and Elliott’s Etel River may well face off again in the Irish Arkle Novice Chase.

There are 10 entries for the race with Mullins’ blue lord and those trained by Joseph O’Brien Embittered and Busselton also in the mix.

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