Paul Nicholls is not ruling out another run this season for Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Bravemansgame.
The eight-year-old and Willie Mullins’ Galopin Des Champs produced a fantastic renewal of the race at Cheltenham on Friday, with the latter horse eventually prevailing by seven lengths after a fantastic battle from the last fence.
There are a limited number of options for horses in the division to compete at the latter end of the season, with the Bowl at Aintree and the Punchestown Gold Cup the two most suitable races.
Nicholls is considering both, though stablemate Clan Des Obeaux is pencilled in for the former and the latter could mean a rematch with Galopin Des Champs on home turf.
The trainer told Racing TV: “It was an amazing race. The Irish Gold Cup winner, the best staying chaser in Ireland, and the King George winner, the best staying chaser in England, jumped the last together. What a race.
“They went an end-to-end gallop. I’ve been involved in some good Gold Cups but I’d say that’s as good as any, if not one of the best Gold Cups you’ll ever see.”
Regarding Bravemansgame’s ability to stay over the three-and-a-quarter-mile trip, the trainer added: “If you took the winner out, no one would even question if he stayed. He’d have won by seven lengths, heavy on the bridle. He got into a real battle from the back of the last.
“I know lot of horses find that tough, that final furlong, it doesn’t mean they don’t stay. He definitely stays, he proved that yesterday. No excuses at all, he just got beat by a better horse, Paul (Townend) rode him for luck and he got the luck.”
The Gold Cup will be the ultimate target next season and hopefully for further seasons to come, with Nicholls unsure at this stage if there will be another outing for the gelding this term.
He said: “I’m mighty proud of him, next year we’ll look forward to giving it another go. Plenty of horses have been second and gone and turned it round and won.
“Yes we got beat, and beat by a very good horse, but next year’s another year.
“He was really tired straight afterwards, but he was straight out eating his grub up this morning. I saw him have a half-hour on the walker this morning and he was fresh as anything. That’s a really good sign.
“The only two options you’ve got are the Bowl or go to Punchestown, there’s nothing else for him. We’re planning to run Clan Des Obeaux in the Bowl because he’s come about really nicely, we could have a really fresh horse for that.
“Then that leaves Punchestown and I don’t know if we want to go and take on Galopin Des Champs if he goes there again.
“I’ve have a talk to the lads who own him and make a plan. He doesn’t have to run again, but if he was to bounce back and was in really good order, we could consider it.
“We’d definitely give it another go as a lot can happen in a year in racing. He ran so well, I like to think he’d be there for the next two or three years.
“Kauto Star and Denman kept on running every year, you’ve just got to plan their campaigns. I suspect it’ll be the Charlie Hall, or something similar, the King George will be his big target, then a little break and back to Cheltenham.
“It’ll be an exciting challenge next year to see if we can find a few pounds.”