Nicholls in no rush with record buy Caldwell Potter

Cheltenham Festival appearance ruled out for future chaser.

Caldwell Potter will not be in action at the Cheltenham Festival next month, with Paul Nicholls already setting his sights on a novice chase campaign next season.

The Grade One winner was top lot at the Andy and Gemma Brown dispersal that took place last week, with Highflyer Bloodstock’s Anthony Bromley going to a record EURO 740,000 on behalf of long-time Ditcheat owners John Hales, Ged Mason, Sir Alex Ferguson and Peter Done.

The big-money acquisition came just 48 hours after leading novice chaser Hermes Allen suffered a fatal fall in the Scilly Isles at Sandown and connections now appear to have a ready-made replacement to fill the void next season.

And with the six-year-old’s future lying over the larger obstacles, the champion trainer is in no rush with his new recruit – which means the Cheltenham Festival is off the table this term.

Paul Nicholls is the new trainer of Caldwell Potter
Paul Nicholls is the new trainer of Caldwell Potter (John Walton/PA)

Nicholls said: “The lads sadly lost Hermes Allen last weekend and I guess they felt it’s a lot of money, but between the four of them it is not that bad. He’s a nice horse to replace Hermes Allen to go novice chasing.

“He won’t go to Cheltenham because he won’t acclimatise in time. He might go to Aintree if we are happy, but he has been bought to go chasing, that is his job. He’s next year’s chaser.”

Former Manchester United manager Ferguson was no stranger to record signings during his time in the Old Trafford dugout and now is jointly responsible for ensuring Caldwell Potter became the most expensive National Hunt horse ever sold at public auction.

However, Nicholls points out that cost is spread amongst four of his longest-standing owners and, rather poignantly, it is Hermes Allen’s groom Mike Couchman who has been entrusted with helping the yard newcomer adjust to life at Ditcheat.

Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is one of Caldwell Potter's new owners
Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is one of Caldwell Potter’s new owners (Martin Rickett/PA)

“Was he that much more than the horse Darren Yeats bought the other year? Probably not, and horses get sold for huge numbers privately that you never hear about,” continued Nicholls.

“He’s a Grade One winner, has got huge potential and it’s a lot easier when you can spread the cost between four people, so I’m excited to have him.

“He arrived on Monday and Mike, the lad who used to look after Hermes Allen, is looking after him and he is thrilled to bits – we just hope we are lucky with him.”

Meanwhile, Nicholls has given his backing to Harry Cobden’s title charge, having seen his stable jockey close the gap to just one behind Sean Bowen in the race to be champion jockey.

Jockey Harry Cobden (left) is just one behind Sean Bowen in the jockeys championship
Jockey Harry Cobden (left) is just one behind Sean Bowen in the jockeys’ championship (Steven Paston/PA)

“I’m 100 per cent behind Harry and, to be honest, I’m fond of both lads,” added Nicholls.

“Sean worked for me for a good while and rode a number of winners for me but is now on a different team.

“We’re supporting Harry as our stable jockey and he’s gone, I think, from being 49 behind to only one now and has done incredibly well.

“Harry is doing well and that’s youth. He’s still a young man, he’s only 24, but as he’s getting more and more experience and is getting older and stronger, he is riding really well.

“Obviously, Sean has had an injury and let’s hope both lads stay sound now until the end of the season and we have a good battle until Sandown.”

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