Nicholls vs Mullins: Sandown Set For Sensational Finale
It’s the final meeting of the UK National Hunt season at Sandown Park on Saturday and since the Cheltenham Festival, the build up to this weekend has been dominated by who will win the UK's Champion Trainer title.
After dominating the Cheltenham and Aintree meetings, Willie Mullins, who will also be crowned Irish Champion Trainer at the end of the season, looked as though he was going to take the UK prize too, but after a smash-and-grab job at the Ayr meeting last weekend by Paul Nicholls, including a Scottish Grand National win with VINCENTE, Saturday’s meeting at Sandown is set up to be one hell of a day.
Mullins has laid down the gauntlet, highlighting just how seriously he’ll be taking the British title challenge, by entering a number of his big guns, including the Susannah and Rich Ricci owned DOUVAN and VAUTOUR in the Celebration Chase, as well as UN DE SCEAUX. There is still a question mark over whether all three will actually compete against each other, but whoever runs will be going up against the Paul Nicholls trained DODGING BULLETS, as well as Nicky Henderson’s SPRINTRE SACRE, who gave us a performance to remember at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
Other big names that Mullins has decided to enter at Sandown are VROUM VROUM MAG, SHANES HILL, VALSEUR LIDO and SIR DES CHAMPS. Nicholls also has some strong horses entered, including ROCKY CREEK, SAPHIR DU RHEU and WONDERFUL CHARM.
Nicholls is currently leading Mullins by £36,935, after UP FOR REVIEW and NAMBOUR came first and second respectfully, in the 3.15pm at Perth earlier today – a race where Mullins surely, would not have featured, if he wasn’t going for the double. The Closutton based trainer also has runners at Perth tomorrow with TOWNSHEND and TENNIS CAP, in a bid to close the gap even further before the weekend.
With the margins so fine, the spotlight is now on Sandown, and although the Championship could go either way, one thing that is for sure, is that the UK Champion Trainer title is going right down to the wire!