Mullins' Rolly keeps the pressure on Nicholls
A £9,097 Perth triumph for Rolly Baby yesterday ensures that Willie Mullins goes into the final throes of an absorbing duel with Paul Nicholls for the British trainers' title having not lost any appreciable ground.
The champion trainer's sole runner in Britain yesterday struck at 2/1 for Paul Townend to reduce the gap to £44,459. Nicholls later hit back when Ruben Cotter spearheaded a first, a second and a third from his four runners at Chepstow.
That left the deficit prior to this afternoon's eagerly anticipated Sandown climax at £53,591, around £35 more than it was yesterday morning.
Nicholls is a 4/6 shot to retain his title, while Mullins is 11/8 to emulate Vincent O'Brien, who won the cross-channel crown in 1953 and '54. In keeping with the theme of the season, Nicholls is numerically stronger with 19 runners.
Mullins' delegation is more select at 10, but he has three clear favourites. The Bet365 Gold Cup boasts the single biggest purse with a win prize of £84,405, for which he relies on Measureofmydreams and Sir Des Champs. Nicholls, though, has the big race favourite in the shape of Southfield Theatre.