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Friday, 18 January, 2019

Hat-trick for Pearl Noir would be just dandy as sprint king Nicholls remembered

David Nicholls: race commemorates David Nicholls, who died last year
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5.00 Ripon
David Nicholls Memorial Apprentice Handicap | 5f | ATR

He has won the race for the last two years but it would be particularly special were Pearl Noir to complete a hat-trick in the apprentice handicap at Ripon on Sunday.

This season the race commemorates David Nicholls, who had some of his biggest victories at the track and with whom Pearl Noir's trainer Scott Dixon started out as an assistant.

"I obviously knew Dandy well," Dixon said. "He had the yard I train from now as a satellite yard for a couple of seasons, so it would be great to win his race."

Watch Pearl Noir win the race in 2017

Pearl Noir, the mount of Theodore Ladd, actually runs off a lower mark than for the last two years, despite a victory at Thirsk last weekend, and the trainer said: "He's in great nick. He was second at Thirsk before coming here last year and he won it this time.

"He's following the same path and he goes there with every chance. This is his time of the year."

Dixon also runs Crosse Fire (Paddy Pilley) and Dixon said: "It's trickier to predict how he will run, he could easily win if he's on a going day but he's hard to catch right."

A career in racing that spanned more than 40 years

David Nicholls rode Soba to win the Great St Wilfrid Handicap at Ripon in 1982 and also trained Ice Planet (2005) and Tajneed (2008) to land the track's richest prize.

He died last year and Ripon managing director James Hutchinson said: "I was approached by one of his long-standing owners a few months ago and asked if we could put on a race in his honour and I was more than delighted.

"Dandy was a good supporter of Ripon and he won the Great St Wilfrid a couple of times with Ice Planet and Tajneed.

"People had their ups and downs with him but he was always entertaining. He was still riding when I first started here and I well remember he was a huge character in the weighing room. This is a great privilege and a great honour."

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He's following the same path and he goes there with every chance. This is his time of the year

Key data

Pearl Noir RIPON
E.W. Terms
Sky bet