Nicholls secures double and salutes track officials
REPORT: THIRSK, Sunday
DAVID NICHOLLS, with his local gallops under water, made a point of walking Thirsk racecourse early on Sunday morning, unbeknown to clerk of the course Christopher Tetley, who had passed the rain-soaked track fit for action at 7.00am.
The pair have had one or two differences of opinion in the past and are not exactly on each others' Christmas card list, so it came as no surprise to Tetley when Nicholls rang him to say: "You surely can't be serious about thinking of racing and can count my four horses as non-runners," before abruptly ending the call. It was the trainer at his most mischievous.
Nicholls added: "Thirty seconds later, I rang him back, told him I was standing on the track, that he'd missed the joke, and that everyone deserved a pat on the back for getting the meeting on!"
Nicholls, who is based "just around the corner," had further cause to smile once the action got under way. He completed a double with Nchike and Kings Point.
Nchike, described by the trainer as "a big bus of a horse and a horse I've always liked,"was retained for 8,000gns after running away with the 6f juvenile seller in the hands of his son Adrian.
As for Kings Point, he defied top weight in the 7f handicap and may now head to Ayr.
"All mine are going to Ayr," joked Nicholls, before adding: "Fair play to everyone for getting this meeting on. I can't get on my gallops because they're so wet, and there's flooding everywhere round about."
Kings Point also contributed to a double for jockey Joe Fanning, who had earlier enjoyed a steeringjob aboard the Mark Johnston-trained Guestofthenation in the 1m maiden.
Fanning, who spoke of "the worst flooding I've ever seen in Middleham," is a big admirer of his two-year-old winner.
"He's a grand horse, very laid-backand with a great attitude," he enthused.
Tim Easterby had been cursing his luck that Haydock had fallen victim to the weather the previous day, which denied Bollin Felix a chance to run in the £85,000 Old Borough Cup.
Compensation came in the form of the 2m handicap here - worth £8,600 - which his mud loving stayer captured without breaking sweat under David Allan, who had earlier picked-up a one-day ban (September 21) on the unplaced Ishiquick in the race won by Nchike.
Easterby, who may be tempted to run Bollin Felix again at Doncaster on Friday, said: "It was grand to see himwin, but it would have been better if it'd been 24 hours earlier; the Haydock race had £55,000 to the winner!
"He wins only when it's heavy, and he'll go wherever he gets his ground."
VCbet cut the four-year-old to 14-1 (from 20) for the Tote Cesarewitch.
The Twelve Steps, the mount of PJ McDonald, ran out a ready winner for Alan Swinbank and owner David Green in the 6f handicap, while Lance Betts recorded his 12th career win when standing in for the unwell Bradley Roper aboard Lake Chini in the 5f apprentices' handicap.
"That's the second winner Lance has ridden for us this season, and I think he rides with a lot of confidence and a very cool head," said David Easterby, assistant and son of winning trainer Mick Easterby.
Betts, though, was found guilty of careless riding and given a two-day ban (September 21 and one day of remedial training on a date to be notified).
Thirsk management and groundstaff for getting the meeting on - their last fixture of the season and their first-ever Sunday gathering - after losing Saturday's card