Copper an intriguing National contender for Ditcheat maestro

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Legendary trainer Paul Nicholls was deservedly awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List. The man responsible for all-time jumping greats Kauto Star, Big Bucks, Denman and Master Minded to name but a few won his 11th trainer’s championship last season, with King George winner Clan Des Obeaux and Cheltenham Festival winners Topofthegame and Frodon leading the Ditcheat charge.

Into the 2019-20 season and Nicholls is yet again involved in a ding-dong battle with old adversary and fellow recent Order of the British Empire recipient Nicky Henderson. Nicholls is sweeping all before him in the chase department with Clan Des Obeaux following up in the King George, Cyrname toppling the mighty Altior and a host of feature handicap scorers highlighted by the likes of Capeland, Diego Du Charmil and Magic Saint.

Nicholls has few peers when it comes to training chasers so it is probably a little surprising that he has won the Grand National only once, with classy veteran Neptune Collonges back in 2012. Nicholls-trained runners have made the frame on a few occasions since but in Give Me A Copper he looks to have a really interesting and still potentially improving chaser to take into battle in the 2020 edition of the world’s most valuable steeplechase.

A son of Presenting the sire of 2011 winner Ballabriggs and 2018 runner-up Pleasant Company, Give Me A Copper is bred to appreciate the unique test of the Grand National. His dam sire Supreme Leader’s son What’s Up Boys went close in a National, eventually finishing second to Bindaree so this is a really stout National Hunt pedigree.

Owned by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Betfred Chief Fred Done and entrepreneur Ged Mason in partnership with Paul Nicholls, the lightly raced ten-year-old has only made the track eleven times, winning five races. He was bought to be a Gold Cup horse but one would imagine a Grand National win would be fair recompense.
After an eye-catching handicap debut fourth last season in a valuable Sandown contest, Give Me A Copper disappointed when well fancied at Cheltenham before running a better race in fourth behind runaway winner Talkischeap in the 3m5f bet365 Gold Cup to end the campaign.

Starting the 19/20 campaign this left Give Me A Copper with a bit to prove but he started the season in winning fashion landing the valuable Badger Beers Silver Trophy at Wincanton; it was Nicholls’ tenth win in the race.
The master trainer said afterwards: “He’s a nightmare to train as he missed a year with a leg and when he came back he had little niggles, a bit of everything.

“He wants a good break between his races and he is a horse to aim for the Grand National and he might go there in December for either the Becher or Sefton possibly. If he’s a serious candidate we wouldn’t be afraid to go there very fresh.”

Give Me A Copper didn’t go to Aintree but instead went to Ascot for the Silver Cup over Christmas, although he disappointed on bottomless ground.

That effort is forgivable given he hadn’t encountered heavy since his bumper win in Ireland way back in 2016. It now looks like he will be given the layoff that his trainer said he appreciates and he could be a really interesting contender come the National.

He certainly won’t be the 40/1* currently offered by bet365 and Betfair if taking his place and there is a sense that everything is being built towards a career best on Merseyside in April.

*Odds subject to change.

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