Sport Horse Racing

Thursday 18 October 2018

Resilient Nichols Canyon can gain sweet revenge for stable against Apple's Jade

Paul Townend rides Nichols Canyon. Photo: Healy Racing
Paul Townend rides Nichols Canyon. Photo: Healy Racing

Patrick Mullins

Fairyhouse tomorrow is probably the best standalone card in the season, with three Grade Ones to be scrapped over and any true jumping fan should be there.

There is huge money on offer and it will play a big part in the trainers' championship.

In all three of the feature events, Gordon Elliott and ourselves send some of our major players into combat and, come dusk, the championship picture could have changed dramatically.

The Hattons Grace has had some fabulous winners down the years, with legends like Hurricane Fly, Brave Inca and Limestone Lad among the previous luminaries to triumph.

This year, it serves up another absolute corker of a race. Last year's winner Apple's Jade, which went on to win at the Cheltenham and Punchestown festivals, squares up to the reigning Stayers Hurdle winner Nichols Canyon.

Of course, Apple's Jade used to be housed with us in Closutton and she beat our Vroum Vroum Mag a short head in a no-holds-barred dust-up in this race last year.

Nichols Canyon is actually smaller in stature than the mare, but he was quarried not born and is as tough a horse that we have sent into action.

Brick walls wouldn't stop him once you've pointed him in a direction.

Combined with that superb resolution he has the speed to win Grade Ones over two miles, he remains the only horse to have beaten Faugheen, and has the stamina to win a Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham over three miles. Also, he is unbeaten on his three seasonal debuts for us.

At this intermediate trip of two and a half miles, I strongly believe he can gain revenge on Apple's Jade for all of the hurt she caused us last season.

With Grade One winners Cilaos Emery and Augusta Kate, not to mention Cheltenham Festival winner Supasundae, also in the line-up this race promises to light up Fairyhouse.

The Royal Bond is an intriguing puzzle to try and solve.

Noel Meade's Red Jack is unbeaten in three, and his form in disposing of Debuchet at Naas looks rock-solid and puts him far ahead of Le Richebourg from the Joseph O'Brien yard.

We have Makitorix which won by the length of the Golden Gate Bridge in Listowel.

We think an awful lot of him and he should put up a bold show but Gordon's Mengali Khan made a good horse of ours look slow in Navan and to my eye he looks the one to beat.

The Drinmore Novice Chase sees Death Duty trying to complete a chasing hat-trick.

This horse looks made for chasing but I'm still not convinced by him.

Augusta Kate had his measure when she fell in Naas last year - Ruby hadn't gone for his stick while Jack Kennedy had, and he disappointed at the spring festivals.

I think our Rathvinden will make him crack under pressure again.

This nine-year-old has improved with every run over fences, winning by a street on his last two outings.

Don't forget he was placed behind Faugheen at Cheltenham as a novice hurdler before missing more than two years with injury. He has been making up for lost time with a vengeance and can continue to do so.

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