Nicholls throws in title towel

10 April 2017 06:17:29 EST

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has all but conceded his title to Nicky Henderson after emerging from Aintree £331,000 adrift of the Seven Barrows handler.

Nicholls had spoken ahead of the Grand National meeting of his need to maintain a manageable gap at the conclusion of the three-day festival on Merseyside but it appears he has been unable to do so.

San Benedeto handed Nicholls a helpful Grade One success in the Maghull Novices' Chase on Saturday but title rival Henderson had already been to the well with Cheltenham winners Buveur D'Air and Might Bite by that stage in the Aintree Hurdle and the Mildmay Novices' Chase respectively.

I'd have to win everything worth winning between now and the end of the season, and Nicky win nothing, and that's not going to happen.

Paul Nicholls

The deficit is now too much to surmount over the closing weeks of the season, according to ten-time champion jumps trainer Nicholls.

"The championship is beyond reach now. If we were talking about £200,000 we might have a chance and it would be worth having a real go, but the gap is too big now," he told the Racing Post.

"I'd have to win everything worth winning between now and the end of the season, and Nicky win nothing, and that's not going to happen."

Nicholls was out of luck in Saturday's Grand National, Vicente being brought down early on while the fancied Saphir Du Rheu fell at the 11th fence. He hopes to have enjoy better luck at Ayr in the Scottish version and is already seeking to build again for next term.

"We've got loads left to run, and we'll have both Arpege D'Alene and [last year's winner] Vicente in the Scottish National, but I'll just be running those horses I was going to run in the nice races that are left anyway.

"There's no point chasing [Nicky], but we'll still try to win as many races as we can before the end of the season and then regroup."

Arpege D'Alene is a 10/1 shot for the Scottish Grand National on 22nd April while last year's hero Vicente is 9/1.

Saphir Du Rheu meanwhile is 999/1 to land the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown on Saturday 29th April.

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