Paul Nicholls, the renowned trainer at Ditcheat yard, is reeling after his top horse Iceo tragically suffered a fatal injury at Sandown. The five-year-old, owned by Chris Giles, was pulled up abruptly by jockey Lorcan Williams during the Grade 1 Betfair Henry VIII Novices’ Chase.
A Sad Farewell
Iceo, who had an impressive record of four wins out of ten starts and had earned over £100,000 in prize money, had been sent off at odds of 7-2 for the race. Unfortunately, his untimely death cast a shadow over an otherwise successful weekend for Nicholls.
Devastation and Tributes
The 14-time champion trainer expressed his grief, stating, "We had an amazing weekend, but the fatal injury to Iceo put a dampener on everything. We all feel for Chris and Deborah Giles – it’s very sad when that sort of thing happens. Everyone in the yard – and Sasha who looks after him – is obviously devastated."
Jockey Williams also paid tribute to the horse, sharing on X: "A horse very close to my heart, I’ll miss him very much. Thanks Ice cube."
Despite the tragic loss, Nicholls had other reasons to celebrate. He had four winners on Saturday, including the highly exciting Isaac Des Obeaux at Chepstow. Owned in part by Sir Alex Ferguson, this horse is related to Clan Des Obeaux and was considered Nicholls' best chance on Saturday.
Additionally, Liari, Sonigino, and Truckers Lodge were successful at Sandown and Aintree. On Friday, Brown Advisory favorite Stay Away Fay was brilliant in winning the Betfair Esher Novices’ Chase.
While there is excitement surrounding Liari, who is two for two over hurdles, Nicholls cautioned that the French import is "unlikely" to compete in the Triumph at the Festival. He stated, "A proper big strong horse, he wants time. My view is he will have an entry for the Triumph, but that will be unlikely. We’re going to go for the Adonis at Kempton and then Aintree. He doesn’t want too much this year, he’s one for the future."