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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Nichols Canyon out to prove himself the best in the staying game

Nichols Canyon (left) crosses the final flight in the Stayers' Hurdle before seeing off Lil Rockerfeller (centre) and Unowhatimeanharry (right)
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5.30 Punchestown
Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle | Grade 1 | 3m, 4yo+ | ATR/RTE1

Anything Sizing John can do over fences Nichols Canyon can do over hurdles, it seems. A thorough test of stamina is seemingly what he relishes.

Having helped himself to a half-dozen Grade 1s over 2m and one more over 2m4f, the prolific seven-year-old took the step up to 3m in his stride when swooping late to land the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Nichols Canyon is as versatile as they come. Any ground, any track, any trip – it all comes alike to the teak-tough gelding. Now we will find out just how durable he is as he attempts to follow up that narrow success over Lil Rockerfeller on home soil.

Ruby Walsh was impressed by his battling qualities at Cheltenham and hailed him a warrior.

Walsh said: "I went down to the start with no great plan. Noel Fehily was on the favourite [Unowhatimeanharry] so I said I'd follow him, he's bound to bring me into the race. My fellow found loads, but he always does. He's a little warrior."

Just like at Cheltenham, Willie Mullins launches a three-pronged attack on the race. Shaneshill, so often the bridesmaid at Cheltenham, was unable to fill his customary runner-up spot on this occasion and was pulled-up by Paul Townend before the last. 

Clondaw Warrior fared better. The versatile ten-year-old did not jump as well as he can on the way to taking sixth behind Nichols Canyon and it would come as little surprise to see him take a hand in the finish here. Write him off at your peril.

Mullins’ fourth contender is Footpad. The five-year-old finished fourth in the Champion Hurdle and steps up in trip here.


Pros Seemed to relish the step up to three miles when landing the Sun Bets Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham and still unexposed over this longer trip

Cons Back from a bruising battle at Cheltenham and who's to know how much that has taken out of him

My fellow found loads, but he always does. He's a little warrior

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