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Nicholls stable boosted as four Graded winners arrive from rival yards

  • Paul Nicholls stable has been boosted by the arrival of four Graded winners ahead of the new season
  • Nicholls was crowned Champion Trainer for the 12th time in 2020/21
  • Saint Calvados, Simply The Betts and Rouge Vif will move to Ditcheat from Harry Whittington's yard
  • Former Grade One winner Lalor has made the switch from Kayley Woollacott
paul nicholls races
Paul Nicholls with his Champion Trainer trophy for the national hunt season 2020-21 at Sandown Park. (Getty)

Paul Nicholls' hopes of adding a 13th Champion National Hunt Trainer title to his resume in 2021/22 were boosted this week, as four Graded winners made the move to his Ditcheat Stables.

Nicholls' gain is certainly Harry Whittington's loss, as owner Andrew Brooks decided that Saint Calvados, Simply The Betts and Rouge Vif would now be handled by the Champion Trainer.

"These things happen all the time in racing," Whittington told the Racing Post when the move was announced.

"The horses have gone out in the field for their summer holiday and they've decided that the string are going to go somewhere else."

"There are no hard feelings at all and I'm very grateful to the Brooks family for everything they have done for us. There's absolutely no falling out whatsoever and we remain good friends. We've had some amazing days together, winning at the Cheltenham Festival with Simply The Betts and Saint Calvados, who won the Kingmaker and then a Grade 3 in Ireland."

"Hopefully there'll be other great days in the future with them and while we're sad to see the horses go, it's Andrew's decision where he wants his horses trained and I wish him and the horses well."

Saint Calvados only ran twice last season, finishing fourth behind Nicholls' star Frodon in the King George at Kempton. Simply The Betts - who handed Whittington his first Cheltenham Festival win when he scored in the 2020 Paddy Power Plate - also endured an injury-hit campaign, finishing sixth on his only outing at Cheltenham in November.

Rouge Vif made a winning reappearance in a handicap at Cheltenham last October, and went on to finish third behind another of Paul Nicholls' top chasers, Politologue in the Tingle Creek. Rouge Vid rounded off his season with a run in the Champion Chase, and Paul Nicholls will be eager to see what he can do with these classy recruits next season.

simply the betts
Simply The Betts winning at the Cheltenham Festival in 2020. (Getty)

Another new arrival at Ditcheat is Lalor, who secured an emotional victory in the Top Novices' Hurdle at Aintree in 2018 for Kayley Wollacott, just months after husband Richard's suicide.

The world was seemingly as Lalor's feet when he won the Grade Two Arkle Trial on his first start over fences the following spring. Sadly, Wollacott's stable star has really struggled since then. Lalor has finished no better than third on any of his last eight starts, and failed to finish both of his outings in 2021.

Owner, David Staddon has decided a change of scenery could help his former star return to top form, and he too has been handed over to Paul Nicholls.

Staddon told the Racing Post earlier this month, "I was left with the situation of whether I carried on with racing or made a move, and if you're going to make a move you might as well go for the best, and Paul is in a bit of a class of his own, isn't he?

"I was very close to Richard and left myself in a delicate position when that happened. When Richard died it was a question of what to do and I suppose I've always tried to live a decent life so I stayed loyal and did the best I could in that respect, but it got to a point where I had to make a decision and this is what I've decided to do."

"Lalor's been with Paul for about a month and Paul said he's quite happy. It's early days, but he's in charge and my thoughts have always been you should listen to your trainer, so I'll just wait until he wants to talk about it."

"He's still rated fairly high so there wouldn't be many races for him for a while now anyway."

Lalor's full brother Lallygag, who finished fifth on his bumper debut back in April, has also been moved to Nicholls' stable.

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