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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Al's well as Nicholls grabs GoldHeadlines
Al Ferof (left) on his way to Paddy Power glory

Paul Nicholls claimed a first Paddy Power Gold Cup as Al Ferof defied a huge weight burden with a brilliant round of jumping at Cheltenham.

Nicholls, owner John Hales and jockey Ruby Walsh have suffered heartache in this race before with the ill-fated Granit Jack, but the 8-1 chance went a long way to exorcising those demons.

Still under a tight hold at the top of the hill, where first Hunt Ball and shortly afterwards Grands Crus had run their races, Walsh was joined by another grey, Walkon, and held just a slight advantage two out. He stamped his class on proceedings from there, and hard as the Alan King runner tried he could not reel him in up the gruelling hill, finishing three lengths adrift.

Nadiya de la Vega was third with long-time leader Casey Top running a gallant race in fourth.

Nicholls said: "He must be a good horse. He came in late because he cut himself in the field, but he had a gallop at Wincanton last weekend and went really well. The second-season chasers of ours like him are improving, I don't think the horses were right last year.

"We'll have to think about Kempton (King George) I suppose, he stayed well there and I think we'll have to look at it."

Walsh said: "You need a bit of class in this race, which is why we were keen to take a chance. In fairness to him we were forcing him at two (miles). Stepping up in trip is probably what we should be doing."

Hales said: "That was a stunning performance, as good as from any horse I have owned. The rain concerned me today, but I thought it was an outstanding run.

"I wasn't as confident when I started looking at the race yesterday - I thought it was going to be difficult to give weight away to horses like Grands Crus. I think we have decided we will go to the King George now, and he is a horse that we are going to have to look after."

David Pipe said of Grands Crus: "Tom (Scudamore) just said he wasn't really ever that happy with him, he lost a near-fore plate but no excuses, we'll get him home and see. He had his heart checked afterwards and that was fine, he's in one piece and far worse things happen. I don't think so (ground to blame), he's handled very soft ground before."

20 October 2014

No rushing back for Long Run
Dynaste leads Old Roan contenders
Grands Crus retired
Chelmsford City handed 58 fixtures
Exciting Berlais heads to Chepstow
Force handed Hong Kong mission
Park favourite for Trophy hunt
Al Kazeem team eye Hong Kong trip
Alderwood to take two-mile test
Dynaste leads Old Roan contenders
Commemorative bound for Breeders'
Hennessy aim for Clouds
Slade eyeing victorious swansong
Fiesolana on Breeders' trail
High-class possibilities for Trophy
Chelmsford City handed 57 fixtures
French option for Maarek
Billy back for chasing bow
Judge to bid for Breeders' glory
Pipe mulls Moon target
High hopes for Holywell
Judge in Breeders' frame
Hill stars for Stoute and Moore
Gabriel lifts Garnet for Deegan
New One back with a win
Light career hangs in balance
Stars shines on hurdling debut
King big guns ready to start
Tullius camp consider options
Doyle unlikely to appeal Ascot ban
Mullins prepares formidable team

19 October 2014

New One breezes to victory
Lavelle has Becher plan for Lodge
Riches heading on road north
Down Royal plan for Tiger
New makes Kempton return
Panther hunting Canadian prize
Sun takes a shine to Cork
Hobbs upholds Showcase record
Another gold strike for Bronze
Gallant Noble a true Champion
Head turns on Charm in QEII
Madame is Ascot leading lady
Forgotten rules for Weld
Byron is poetry in motion

18 October 2014

Forgotten rules for Weld
War misses Breeders' date
Rakti reaps Caulfield reward
Chatez bids for Balmoral crown
Lavelle duo top Cheltenham card
Integral takes on the boys
Noble on Champion mission
Belardo a Dewhurst sparkler
Together stands firm for Ballydoyle
Ivawood felled by plucky Thought
Crowley doubles up on Berkshire
Tendon injury sidelines Tent

17 October 2014

Minstrel calls the tune
Sceaux set for chase campaign
Sari seeking Ascot gold
Charm out to show winning Spirit
Estimate aiming to go the Distance
French veteran back for more
O'Meara - G has the Force
Fallon considers American switch
Cossack maintains Elliott's record
Vautour goes chasing
Lucida heads Godolphin trio
McCoy sits out weekend action
No Middle ground for classy Ivawood
Big guns hold sway for QEII
Cirrus stands firm for Champion
Hanagan: Estidhkaar no soft touch

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