Racing Post logo
Search icon
Menu icon
Menu icon
  • MoreChevron down

'The jockeys call him a machine' - small yard dreaming big with Bear Ghylls

Nicky Martin with Bear Ghylls at her stable in Somerset
Nicky Martin with Bear Ghylls at her stable in SomersetCredit: James Stevens

Nicky Martin's flagbearer Bear Ghylls has been hailed as "a machine" by jockeys getting him warmed up for an exciting novice chase campaign.

The seven-year-old missed last season through injury and has not been seen since finishing a promising fourth in Bob Olinger's Ballymore at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.

Bear Ghylls was just half a length behind Bravemansgame, despite making some significant blunders at three and two out, and the Somerset trainer hopes he can enjoy similar success to the subsequent Grade 1-winning novice chaser now he has recovered from a minor injury above the fetlock joint.

James Bowen is in line to take the ride and is looking forward to the opportunity, having got to know Bear Ghylls in a first gallop this week. He takes over from Matt Griffiths, who suffered a serious injury following a car crash in early October.

"I'm very excited," said Martin, who has a team of 20 horses this season. "I always try not to have too high expectations as it can go horribly wrong, but the professional jockeys who come and ride him feel as though they're on a machine. They are all very, very impressed with him.

CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 17: Rachael Blackmore riding Bob Olinger (black sleeves) clear the last to win The Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 17, 2021 in Cheltenham, England. Sporting venues around the UK remain under strict r
Bear Ghylls (maroon silks, star cap) finished fourth to Bob Olinger at Cheltenham in 2021Credit: Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

"He's powerful and you can just feel that difference – if you do a steady gallop they'll look around wondering where the rest are because they don't realise just how well he travels.

"He's absolutely fine now, the vets are happy with him. A lot depends on the weather but the ultimate goal is to get to Cheltenham, taking a similar route to Bravemansgame."

Martin owns all her horses with partner John Simpson and rejected an offer, described as a "large amount", for Bear Ghylls in advance of his festival run 18 months ago, but Martin believes the best will come over fences from the imposing son of Arcadio.

Early options for his return include a 2m5f intermediate chase at Newton Abbot on October 15, the starting point for Bravemansgame last season, or a 2m4f novice chase at Carlisle the following week.

Bear Ghylls can be backed at 50-1 with bet365 and Sky Bet for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase and Martin feels he is likely to develop into a three-mile chaser through the season.

She said: "Time will tell but he's so much stronger and he went from two miles to two miles five around Cheltenham and coped with it so well. I wasn't sure we'd stay it but he came up the hill still going on.

"He'll be a three-mile chaser and the year off may have done him a lot of favours. He's really filled – he was quite weak but now he's broader."

The trainer, based 900ft above sea level in the Exmoor National Park, describes her team as the best she has had heading into the winter.

Old favourite The Two Amigos is likely to feature in veterans' races and return in the Welsh Grand National, in which he finished second two seasons ago but missed out on last year as Martin forgot to enter him in time.

Young prospects Leading Choice, Light Em Up Nigel and Lucky So And So are also considered talented horses for the season.

Read more . . .

Arc boosts prize-money by £200,000 at next week's St Leger festival

Amo lose Norfolk appeal despite 'poor and reprehensible' Paul Hanagan ride

Meet the superstar rivalling Baaeed for the title of world's best racehorse

Sign up to receive On The Nose, our essential daily newsletter, from the Racing Post. Your unmissable morning feed, direct to your email inbox every morning.

James StevensWest Country correspondent

Published on 31 August 2022inNews

Last updated 18:18, 31 August 2022