Tidal Bay: Leopardstown-bound chaser is in the form of his lifePICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Nicholls: Tidal Bay could be big Gold Cup player
PAUL NICHOLLS on Sunday repeated his view that Tidal Bay could emerge as "a big player" in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup granted the sort of testing conditions in which he produced the performance of his life to follow home Bobs Worth in the Hennessy Gold Cup.
Bobs Worth is now as short as 7-2 favourite for the Gold Cup after his victory in receipt of 6lb and handing out a three-and-a-quarter-length beating to Newbury top-weight Tidal Bay, who received the same 174 Racing Post Rating as his weekend conqueror.
That rating is 1lb more than Ditcheat stablemate Silviniaco Conti earned when winning the Betfair Chase but, while he is a best-priced 7-1 for the Gold Cup, the Leopardstown-bound Tidal Bay can be backed at 20-1 despite posting his third consecutive top-notch performance at the age of 11.
"If he was seven or eight he would be 8-1 not 25-1 for the Gold Cup because it was an awesome run in the Hennessy," said Nicholls, who took over training Graham Wylie's veteran from Howard Johnson just over a year ago.
"He is way better than when he first started running for us. He now travels, jumps and runs like a high-class horse. If we had really testing ground in the Gold Cup he wouldn't be without a chance. His last three runs have been brilliant and yesterday was a career best."
Confirming a Christmas engagement for last season's bet365 Gold Cup winner, Nicholls added: "I'm not sure the right thing would be to give him a slog in the Welsh National. Ruby [Walsh] got off at Newbury and said he would be some horse around Leopardstown, which I'd been thinking as well, so I'd be very keen to take on the Irish horses in the Lexus Chase."