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Paul Nicholls prepares Knappers Hill for Betfair Hurdle as Clan Des Obeaux, Bravemansgame and Hitman also head to Newbury for Super Saturday



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Champion jumps trainer Paul Nicholls has confirmed once-beaten novice Knappers Hill is set to take his chance in the £155,000 Betfair Hurdle and is lining up Clan Des Obeaux, Bravemansgame and Hitman for Betfair Super Saturday at Newbury this weekend.

Knappers Hill, who has won five out of six starts, was one of 16 five-day acceptors for Britain’s richest handicap hurdle for which last year’s winner Soaring Glory is the new top weight from Tritonic on 11st 11lb. Knappers Hill is 5-1 co-favourite with Jpr One and Broomfield Burg in the sponsor’s betting.

Knappers Hill has been earmarked for the 2m race since losing his unbeaten record at the hands of Jonbon in a Grade 2 race at Ascot in December, in which he finished third. Nicholls, twice a winner of the Betfair Hurdle, said: “This has been his target for a while. It’s quite common that we aim some novices that we feel are quite well handicapped. Novices have a good record so after Ascot I thought it was a nice race to go for.

Paul Nicholls is sending some big names to Newbury on Saturday
Paul Nicholls is sending some big names to Newbury on Saturday

“His Ascot run was good form. The horse that was second ran well in Ireland on Sunday in a Grade 1. It was a bit of a false run race and they sprinted over the last couple of hurdles. He could have done with a truer run race, which he will get on Saturday. I think he is a real strong stayer.”

He added: “His inexperience possibly counts against him a fraction, but we’ve done a lot of work on his jumping and he is much more assured now. He beat Stage Star last year twice in bumpers and Stage Star has won a Grade 1 [the Challow Hurdle] and is now rated 143 so 135 might be a nice mark for Knappers Hill. Harry Cobden will ride and will school him tomorrow morning.”

Clan Des Obeaux will be making his third appearance in the Betfair Denman Chase. He won the race in 2019 and finished second last year when Nicholls won the race for the tenth time with Secret Investor. He is one of six entries alongside Royale Pagaille, Imperial Aura, Eldorado Allen and 2019 Ladbrokes Trophy winner De Rasher Counter.

“Clan Des Obeaux only just got beat in this last year,” said Nicholls. “He is not going to Cheltenham. The ground sounds ideal so I am looking forward to running him.” Nicholls said Bravemansgame, who is also entered in the Denman, would instead contest the opening race on the card, the Betfair Cheltenham Roarcast Novices’ Handicap Chase.

“When Denman won this race it was a level weights novice chase,” said Nicholls. “Now it’s a handicap. I don’t want to run at Ascot next week because it is a little too close to Cheltenham. It’s a limited handicap with a 19lb weight range and probably only a small field which will be ideal.”

Hitman will be the Nicholls runner in the Betfair Exchange Game Spirit Chase, for which the six entries include last year’s winner, Sceau Royal. “He was second in the Tingle Creek, second in the Haldon Gold Cup and won at Newbury last year,” the trainer said. “This looks like an ideal race for him too.”



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