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It’s a right Royal day for Nicholls

Royal Charm was trimmed by Coral into 14-1 from 16s for the Arkle in March after a hard-fought victory in the AP McCoy 15 Times Champion Jockey Graduation Chase at Exeter.

Paul Nicholls' five-year-old was having only his second start over fences but was nevertheless sent off the 8-13 favourite against more experienced rivals.

Those included the likes of Cheltenham Festival winner Chapoturgeon and the Donald McCain newcomer Sports Line, third in Grade One company on his last start for Willie Mullins.

However, it was David Pipe's Leo's Lucky Star who emerged as the biggest threat and despite travelling best of all into the straight, he was outbattled by the Nicholls youngster.

Daryl Jacob was the man on board as Noel Fehily was absent due to flu.

“He did well to get back up and win but he wants further than that,” said Nicholls.

“If I'd had my way and we could have relied on the weather he'd have gone to Ascot on Friday over two and a half miles but it was a bit more experience for him and we'll now step him up in trip in the spring. I just wanted to get a run into him.

“He's unlikely to run in the Arkle and I'll find a target for him in the spring.”

Jacob nearly brought up a double when the outsider Shalimar Fromentro pushed 1-2 favourite Wymott all the way in the Vote AP McCoy For BBC Sports Personality Novices' Chase.

The Donald McCain-trained winner had been prominent in the betting for the RSA Chase but was given a real fright by the four-year-old, who made stealthy headway inside the final half a mile.

Wymott was the second leg of a double for Jason Maguire which was initiated when the good recent form of the Kim Bailey yard continued with the victory of Silver Gypsy in the Happy Christmas Mares' Novices' Hurdle.

Sent off the 15-8 favourite to follow up her hurdling debut victory of three weeks ago, Maguire had her in the front rank throughout and she steadily drew further clear, eventually beating Dun See Dee by seven lengths.

“I was actually very impressed with her because I thought that was quite a competitive contest,” said Bailey.

“We'll step her up in grade now. She might go and carry a double penalty somewhere but I shall look seriously at conditions races now.”

Jonjo O'Neill's Sway (9-2) is finally beginning to live up to her tall reputation which she brought from France. A prolific winner in her homeland, the four-year-old still has plenty of time on her side after victory in the EBF/TBA Mares' Novices' Chase.

Requin (7-1) prevailed in the South-West Racing Club Handicap Hurdle on his first start for Victor Dartnall since leaving the Alners. Pushed all the way to the line by Salontyre, who proved his recent win at the track last week to be no fluke, the five-year-old won by half a length.

His jockey Denis O'Regan was hit with three-day ban for careless riding. He will be side-lined between December 30-January 1.

Colin Tizzard's Inside Dealer (3-1 favourite) won the South-West Racing Club Handicap Chase by 12 lengths under his son, Joe.

Belfast Telegraph


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