Bravemansgame to be back next year, says proud Nicholls.
After the King George winner gave Galopin Des Champs the best performance in the final 100 yards, Paul Nicholls promised to bring Bravemansgame back for a second chance at the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The champion trainer, who earlier in the day saddled his second winner of the week with Stay Away Fay, never shies away from a challenge and wants another shot at the favorite, who ultimately won by seven lengths.
Over the final 22 fences, the two were at odds, but the 7-5 favorite, who was a year younger at seven, won.
“He’s run an absolute blinder, but he’s just been beaten by a very good horse. He couldn’t have done more and got a great ride by Harry (Cobden),” said Nicholls.
“He’ll be back next year when he’ll be another year stronger and we’ll have another go.
“Turning in I thought we had a right chance but the winner was fantastic, we always knew he was the horse to beat. The winner won on merit.
“What we have to consider is that our target was the King George and while this wasn’t an afterthought we weren’t always going to come here.
“We gave it a go, we weren’t sure about the track, but he travelled beautifully and we’ve just been outstayed from the last by a very smart horse and I’m very proud of him.
“We hate finishing second, but he was always going to be the horse to beat.”
He went on: “The track was never going to be a problem, I could never understand those who thought it was, he’s only run here once before today.
“A bit better ground would suit him, the whole way I was thinking he maybe just wasn’t travelling quite as well as he does on good ground but he’s a wonderful horse.
“Next year we’ll go Charlie Hall, King George and back here again. All the horses this week have run well bar Hermes Allen but he’ll be back. We’ve had a great Festival really, Stay Away Fay might be a Gold Cup horse of the future and we’ve been second in the Gold Cup.”
Cobden had no excuses, adding: “Seconds are never remembered are they, but he’s run a brilliant race and I couldn’t have been in a better position turning in.
“He’s galloped right to the line but we’ve been beaten by the better horse.
“I don’t think a lot of people felt he was man enough for a Gold Cup but he was relaxed, jumped well, stayed and was second best.”
Conflated placed third for Gordon Elliott, who experienced a minor drama prior to the race when the doctor ordered his jockey Davy Russell to withdraw.
He was replaced by Sam Ewing and Elliott was full of praise for the youngster: “He didn’t miss a beat, he ran a great race. He got a little hampered turning in but it didn’t make much difference. We’re absolutely thrilled with him.
“Sam gave him a beautiful ride and got him in a lovely rhythm and he ran his heart out.
“Davy was sore, I didn’t get much chance to talk to him but he just told me he was too sore to ride our horse so it looks like he was kicked.
“We’ll see how he is before deciding if he runs again.”
In what some will consider to be a flawless Grant National trial, Grand National winner Noble Yeats soared to victory over Protektorat and took fourth place.
Owner Robert Waley-Cohen said: “I thought he ran really well, apart from the fact he got outpaced at some point.
“He wasn’t tailed off and he absolutely flew up the hill.
“I think he would have been happier with a bit more room, he was caught on the inside but then when Ahoy Senor fell it helped him a bit as it opened things out.
“Onwards to Aintree, if the horse is fine. What do they say about the Guineas, fourth in the Guineas, win the Derby. Let’s hope.”
Minella Indo and A Plus Tard, two Gold Cup winners in the past for Henry de Bromhead, were both pulled up.
“A Plus Tard was very unlucky. He was going well, tracking Paul (Townend on the winner) but then had to jump two horses (Ahoy Senor fell and brought down Sounds Russian).
“That’s the luck of the draw, but the main thing is he’s back. He needs to go left-handed so I imagine he will go to Aintree.
“Minella Indo completely missed the start. Nico (de Boinville) was annoyed but his chance had gone.”
Even though Hewick finished second, he maintained his position claims.