3 minute read
Knappers Hill brought up a memorable opening treble for an emotional Paul Nicholls with an exemplary round of jumping in the Grade 2 Boodles “Rising Stars” Novices’ Chase at Wincanton today.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls was left fighting back the tears after Knappers Hill carried the colours of his late landlord and close friend Paul Barber, who died aged 80 in June, to victory. Nicholls enjoyed a number of memorable days with Barber, including winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1999 with See More Business and Denman in 2008.
The gelded son of Valirann suffered defeat on his chasing debut at Chepstow four weeks ago but the dual Grade 2 winning hurdler left that form well behind with a near-foot-perfect display of jumping at the Somerset venue.
Knappers Hill was sent off the 4/5 market leader to bring up an opening three-race treble for the champion trainer following earlier victories of Meatloaf and Huelgoat, and in all truth, success never really looked in doubt as Harry Cobden enjoyed the perfect run round before nudging his mount out to score by a commanding four and a quarter lengths. The Harry Fry-trained mare Lady Adare stuck on pluckily to finish second, with Irish raider Captain Conby well-beaten back in third.
An emotional Nicholls said: "It is great that all of Paul's family are here today. Paul would have been proud of that. He has been so good to me, and I've missed him a lot this year. He left a big hole in my life. This has been the target to try and win this.
"I'm a bit emotional really as Paul would have loved that. He loved that horse as well. He went to see him every day. To see him win in his colours he would have absolutely loved that. That was brilliant.
"We purchased him together at the Goffs Land Rover [stores] sale and he has just never stopped winning. He will run in Paul's colours this season which is brilliant. The boys will love this.
"Paul has been such a great man to me. He was always there when things weren't going right. He picked the phone up to me every single night.
"I'm just so chuffed for the whole family. Paul would have been watching down. It was brilliant."
On future plans, Nicholls added: "He could possibly go to Newbury next [for the Coral John Francome Novices' Chase]."