YOU need a special horse to thrive at Cheltenham.
And in Bravemansgame, Paul Nicholls reckons he has just that.
The comparisons with Gold Cup hero Denman have already been made, and the Ditcheat handler hopes Bravemansgame can go one better than that star in Wednesday’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
Denman could only manage second when favourite in the same race back in 2006.
Confidence is high in the camp and Nicholls rates him as his best chance of a winner all week.
He said: “Bravemansgame has shown plenty of ability at home, and the step up in trip has considerably helped.
“He goes in with a big profile like Denman did after winning the Challow.
“Two miles was too short and we found that out at Chepstow, when it took Harry Cobden about half the track to pull him up – the Ballymore is the ideal race.
“He's a good, strong galloper and he should give a good run against the two top-rated Irish horses sitting at the top of the market.
"He needed a breathing op in the summer, gave him some time and that has helped him considerably preparing for the Ballymore.
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“He would be my NAP of the week, he has as good a chance as any.”
Last year’s Champion Chase king Politologue and Albert Bartlett hope Barbados Bucks are others to fly the Nicholls flag this week.
Betfair ambassador Nicholls added: “I think Politologue will reverse the Clarence House form with First Flow. He loves Cheltenham.
“He didn't quite get a breather last time out, but he's in superb order at home and he really takes to the track at Cheltenham.
"On what we've seen at home, he should run his race very well. The pressure is off a little with the heavy favourite, but we're in the race to win it.
“Barbados Buck’s is an out and out stayer, and if he's anything like Big Bucks at the Festival he has the right profile for the race.
"He put the race to bed very well at Kempton under a double penalty and we're hopeful of a strong performance."
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Frodon and Bryony Frost will face their biggest test yet in the Gold Cup, but Nicholls says he’s not in there just to make the numbers up.
He said of his King George winner: “I'm convinced he's got a strong chance. Away from the favourite, it's very much a level playing field.
“I couldn't see him winning the King George, but he went on and did it. So he has every chance and I'm very excited about him.”
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