Weekend wrap: Two Nicholls four-timers turn up heat on Mullins

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Flat racing was supposed to share the limelight with the jumps over the weekend just gone, but in the end national hunt matters provided almost all the intrigue.

On Friday afternoon Paul Nicholls trailed Willie Mullins in the UK Jumps Trainers’ Championship by £152,472 and 87p.

By the end of the action on Sunday evening he had opened up a £43,160 lead over his Irish rival thanks to four-timers at Ayr’s Scottish Grand National meeting and Wincanton.

Nicholls’ Vicente did more than any of his other representatives to redress the imbalance, trousering nigh on £120,000 for landing the marathon feature north of the border.

The Ditcheat maestro and reigning champion is now 4/6 to retain the laurels, with Mullins 11/10 to become the first handler to land the laurels on both sides of the Irish sea since Aidan O’Brien did so on the flat in 2008.

What had threatened to be a very informative weekend in the latter sphere failed to yield much in the way of Classic clues after Newbury’s trials meeting was lost to the elements.

Chelmsford stepped to save the card, much to pleasure of trainers needing to get races into their entrants, but neither the Greenham Stakes nor the Fred Darling cause ructions in the markets for the one-mile classics.

Tasleet landed odds of 4/7 to take the former contest by a short head from Knife Edge, but winning-trainer William Haggas remained unconvinced that a step up to 8f is in the colt’s best interests.

Currently unquoted in the 2000 Guineas betting, the son of Showcasing may yet be routed to Newmarket if his owner has no more suitable runners.

However, Haggas prefers the idea of going back in trip in either the Jersey Stakes or the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

The Fred Darling did at least offer some comment on matters at the head of the 1000 Guineas market.

Winner Marenko was scoring for the second time in two runs this term, having finished over 16l behind 13/8 ante-post favourite Minding at Newmarket on her final outing as a juvenile.

Meanwhile, Besharah, who took third at Chelmsford, raced 9/2 Guineas hope Lumiere twice in 2015, beating her once.

Neither of the first two home were entered in the first fillies’ Classic of the campaign prior to the race, though the Richard-Hannon-trained winner may yet be supplemented.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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