Nicholls and Mullins both declare strong Sandown squads

Southfield-theatre-360

Southfield Theatre: could secure Nicholls the title in the bet365 Gold Cup

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)  

PAUL NICHOLLS and Willie Mullins will both be heavily represented at Sandown on the final day of the 2015-16 British jumps season as both men aim to secure enough prize-money to capture the trainers’ championship.

Nine-time champion Nicholls runs 19 horses, while perennial Irish champion Willie Mullins, who is bidding for a first title in Britain, has declared ten, including the likes of Vroum Vroum Mag and Un De Sceaux.

Mullins trails Nicholls by £53,556 heading into the penultimate day of the title race and while there is no Vautour in the Grade 2 Oaksey Chase, he has Valseur Lido, the horse who chased Vautour home at Cheltenham, and Ballycasey to go for him. Nicholls runs Saphir Du Rheu, Wonderful Charm and Rocky Creek in opposition.

Crucial bet365 Gold Cup

The apparent banker for Mullins is prolific winner Vroum Vroum Mag, whose task in the Listed bet365 Select Hurdle was made easier by the defection of The New One, who scoped poorly. Vroum Vroum Mag has been priced at 4-7 to win and scoop the first prize of £28,475, though Nicholls launches a three-pronged assault with Ptit Zig, San Benedeto and Silsol.

The complexion of the title race changed dramatically last weekend when Nicholls won the Scottish Grand National with Vicente, scooping £119,595 in the process. Victory for either trainer in the bet365 Gold Cup, which is worth £84,405 to the winner, could prove decisive.

Both men have two representatives as Nicholls has declared ante-post favourite Southfield Theatre and last year’s winner Just A Par, while Mullins turns to Measureofmydreams, who was an early faller in the Scottish Grand National, and 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Sir Des Champs.

Sprinter Sacre and Un De Sceaux

Un De Sceaux (left) faces Sprinter Sacre (right) in the Celebration Chase

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)  

Celebration time

The Grade 1 Celebration Chase, for which declarations were made on Thursday, is worth £71,187 to the winner. Mullins relies on Un De Sceaux, who will be tasked with turning the tables on Champion Chase winner Sprinter Sacre, while Nicholls does not have such a strong contender but is responsible for three of the six runners and will pocket a minimum of £23,387 should his trio complete.

Voix Du Reve was considered by many to be an unlucky loser in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, when he fell at the last. He takes on Tommy Silver, who was seventh for Nicholls in Triumph Hurdle, as he chases the £31,280 first prize.

Tense finish

The penultimate 2m4f novices handicap chase, which carries a total prize fund of £30,000, looks a good opportunity for Nicholls to gain an extra edge as he saddles As De Mee, Some Buckle and Calipto, while Willie Mullins does not have a runner.

If it all comes down to the final race of the season both trainers will be fancying their chances as Nicholls can rely on four runners, while Mullins has declared three in the 2m4f handicap hurdle.

Qualando, Red Hanrahan, Alcala and Chartbreaker form the Nicholls quarter, while Mullins saddles McKinley, Burgas and Bellow Mome.

 

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