Pacha Du Polder extends Paul Nicholls dominance in StanJames Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup
On a weekend generally low-key in terms of Cheltenham clues, Paul Nicholls did at least serve notice his team could hardly be in better shape as the festival looms.
Leading the Nicholls team at Newbury on Saturday was Pacha Du Polder, who extended the champion trainer’s dominance in the StanJames Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup.
Pacha Du Polder was making it six Nicholls victories in the Grade Three handicap since Cornish Sett dead-heated back in 2006, and this was also the biggest moment in 25-year-old rider Ryan Mahon’s career.
Not a model of consistency, Pacha Du Polder was revitalised by the application of cheekpieces and his lead was barely challenged throughout the two and a half miles as he came home five lengths clear of Big Fella Thanks.
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“That’s my first Graded winner,” said Mahon. “He has his good days and his bad days, but he had every chance on a good day and the first-time cheekpieces really helped him.”
Nicholls, who had doubles at Newbury and Doncaster, had gone to Town Moor along with stable jockey Ruby Walsh.
Asked if the result was as much of a surprise as his 18-1 odds, he said: “It was and it wasn’t. We’ve always known he wanted better ground as he showed how good he could be on it when winning at Ayr last year.
“He ran a shocker when I fancied him in the Old Roan at Aintree and he obviously has his going days. I told Ryan if he was having a going day, to be very positive.
“He won’t be going to Cheltenham, but he might go to Ayr or Aintree.”
Another style of headgear, this time blinkers, helped stablemate Michel Le Bon (5-1) reverse a landslide of form in the Barbury International Supporting Greatwood Veterans’ Handicap Chase.
“He has been dire the last twice but the blinkers have transformed him,” said Nicholls. “I haven’t seen a horse work as well in first-time blinkers since we put them on See More Business before the Gold Cup."
Nicholls, who was at Town Moor, went home with wins courtesy of Toubab and Aaim To Prosper.
However, there was a reverse for Nicholls on the day as Grand National hope Join Together was pulled up in the William Hill Grimthorpe Chase won by the Henry Daly-trained Quentin Collonges.