Paul Nicholls hoping 'brilliant' Bravemansgame can deliver Cheltenham Gold Cup

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It is 24 years since the Ditcheat maestro first landed the blue riband with See More Business (1999) and he went on to win three successive renewals between 2007 and 2009, with Kauto Star's two triumphs sandwiching the victory of his formidable stablemate Denman. Nicholls has since seen a couple of dual King George winners come up short at Prestbury Park in the form of Silviniaco Conti and Clan Des Obeaux, but is hopeful it will be a different story in little over a fortnight's time for his latest winner of Kempton's Boxing Day highlight. Speaking at a press morning at his yard on Monday, the champion trainer said: "He's done nothing wrong at all this year and I don't think he was right last spring. "We re-cauterized his palate during the summer, he's had some time and I didn't want to make the mistake of running him again between Kempton and Cheltenham. "He's brilliant fresh and brilliant very fit. He's twice the horse now as a model compared to what he was last year. "We learnt a few things about him last year, you never stop learning how to train one and I think we've got it right now."

There have been suggestions that Bravemansgame is in the same camp as Clan Des Obeaux and Silviniaco Conti in that Cheltenham may not be his ideal track - but Nicholls does not subscribe to that theory. He added: "With Clan we always had little doubts about the track, and Conti - but Bravemansgame has run there once and finished third in the Ballymore as a six-year-old. He got beaten by a horse (Bob Olinger) who on the day was an aeroplane and now can't raise a gallop. "He's won on all sorts of tracks and he's the finished article now. I can assure you when he was six years old he wasn't half the horse he is now." Another question Bravemansgame will need to answer in the Cotswolds is whether his stamina will last out over the the extended three-and-a-quarter-mile distance. Nicholls, though, is confident in his staying power, saying: "The one thing he did in the King George was he stayed on really strongly. He didn't get the best passage that day and horses who win King Georges win Gold Cups. "In the Gold Cup you turn into the straight and the best horse on the day wins and the horse that stays the best wins. "I don't know how he'll get on up that hill, no one knows, but it was the same with Kauto Star. We didn't know if he was going to get three and a quarter miles because he'd been winning at Kempton, but he did. "It's a good race and it will be hard to win, as any Gold Cup is, but I think he's got a lovely chance - I think he's one of our best chances of the week. "He's the best staying chaser in England, I think he's proved that, and now he's got to go and run probably the biggest race of his life."

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