Cornish Sett (Ruby Walsh) jumping ahead of Cowboyboots (Sam Jones) on the first circuit in the Betfred Gold Cup Chase at Sandown Cornish Sett did not make the most illustrious start to his racing career, throwing off Mark Bradburne at the start of a Hereford bumper in May, 2004. Two days later, though, he made amends with a victory at Ludlow. In a brief hurdling career, the horse displayed a tendency to hang, but that did not stop him recording three wins from just five races. His best hurdling performance was probably at Ayr - his last race over the smaller obstacles - when he beat Howard Johnson's Coat Of Honour in a Class 2 event. His first race over fences in October, 2005, was impressive, placing second to Philip Hobbs’ decent novice Chilling Place by just half a length at Exeter, despite appearing to look for an alternative exit as he approached the last. Little wonder then that headgear was applied for his next race at Newbury where he duly recorded his first chase victory. A failure at Warwick, where the ground may have been testing enough, was followed by two seconds and a first, the win coming on good to firm ground at Newbury (when he dead-heated) in the Vodafone Gold Cup. At the 2006 Cheltenham Festival he was down the field in the Jewson Novices' Chase and, returning to the course a month later, fell for the first time in his career when still travelling well behind Old Vic in a two-mile five-furlong chase. In the 2006/07 season, Cornish Sett raced just five times, the most impressive outing was when he won the Jersey Graduation Chase over three miles and half a furlong at Cheltenham in November, though he was also a decent second over three miles to Simon in Kempton's Racing Post Chase. That campaign ended with a disappointing sixth in the Betfred Gold Cup at Sandown, after being well fancied. Last season, a promising opener at Cheltenham in November, when he was second to a revitalised Sir Rembrandt, was followed by lacklustre runs in the Boylesports.com Chase at Cheltenham and the Welsh National, although he ended the campaign with a fair effort in the John Smith’s Grand National, completing the course in 12th. The current campaign began at Wincanton in October, when Cornish Sett fell in a handicap chase. However, he quickly made amends next time out when prevailing by a nose from Island Flyer in the Listed Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton on November 8. He followed that effort with a fine second behind Notre Pere in the Welsh National at Chepstow in December while last time out he was disappointing when tailed off in the Blue Square Vodka Gold Cup at Haydock on February 14. Cornish Sett is related to Grand National winners Hallo Dandy (1984) and Rhyme N' Reason (1988).
Race Record Starts: 28; 1st: 8; 2nd: 7; 3rd: 0; Win & Place Prize Money: £205,992
Cornish Sett fulfilled a lifetime ambition for owner Peter Hart when the gelding secured a novices’ hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, 2005. Hart had always dreamed of seeing a horse carry his colours to victory up the Prestbury Park hill, and remarkably, Cornish Sett was his first ever runner at the course. Hart worked in the building industry for 47 years, prior to his retirement in February, 2007, as Managing Director of Gloucestershire-based Formpave Ltd, the award-winning company he established a decade earlier. Formpave pioneered the manufacture of permeable concrete paving blocks that recycle rain and filter run-off. Hart sold his majority share in Formpave to the UK building products division of Hanson plc in September, 2006. He is a director of Forest Pennant Ltd, the Somerset-based makers of Royal Forest Pennant stone paving, established in 2005 as a subsidiary of Formpave. Hart’s first success as an owner came with the Paul Nicholls-trained Celtic Song, who was registered under the ownership of Formpave Ltd when winning a novices’ hurdle at Wincanton on October 10, 2002. Hart enjoyed his biggest success as an owner when Cornish Sett dead-heated with Horus for the 2006 Vodafone Gold Cup at Newbury. He also has the smart novice chaser Super Formen and novice hurdler Special Occasion.
John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2007 Cornish Sett (12th)
Paul Nicholls, the son of a policeman, was born on April 17, 1962, and has been training at Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat, Somerset, since taking out a licence on November 1, 1991. He started out in racing as a jump jockey and twice rode the winner of the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury, in 1986 on Broadheath and a year later on Playschool. Nicholls partnered 130 winners between 1980 and 1989, struggling always to keep his weight down, and nominates the best horses he rode as Broadheath, Playschool and Seagram. Between 1989 and 1991, he was assistant trainer to Devon-based David Barons, who sent out Seagram to win the 1991 Grand National at Aintree during that time. He started out at Paul Barber's Manor Farm with eight horses. Having strongly challenged Martin Pipe for the jump trainers' championship over a number of years, most notably when pushing his great rival right to the last day of the 2004/05 campaign, Nicholls claimed his first title the following season, being responsible for 148 winners and gaining over £2.4 million in prize money. He retained the title the next season with 124 successes and nearly £2,950,000 in prize money. The hugely talented Kauto Star was the stable's flag-bearer, with victories in the bonusprint.com Old Roan Chase at Aintree, the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park, Sandown's Tingle Creek Chase, the King George VI Chase at Kempton, Newbury's AON Chase and the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. Kauto Star thus became the first horse to land the Betfair Million, the huge bonus put up by the leading betting exchange to a horse successful in the Betfair Chase, King George VI Chase and totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. Kauto Star’s halo slipped slightly in 2008 but it was Nicholls who also trained his conqueror in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup, the mighty Denman. Nicholls saddled the first three home in the race with Neptune Collonges taking the third spot and the Ditcheat handler ended the campaign as champion trainer once again with 151 winners, accruing over £4 million in prize money. Nicholls pulled off the amazing feat of saddling seven winners and three seconds from his 10 runners on Saturday, November 7, 1998, and made history when he became the first trainer to saddle six winners on the same card, at Wincanton, his local track, on Saturday, January 21, 2006. His 1,000th British winner came when Noble Action won at Folkestone on November 15, 2004. Another high point in his training career came at the 1999 Cheltenham Festival when he captured the major chase on each of the three days - Flagship Uberalles scored in the Irish Independent Arkle Chase, Call Equiname in the Queen Mother Champion Chase the following day and, best of all, See More Business took the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. Nicholls has trained 25 Cheltenham Festival winners in total, and was the most successful trainer at The Festival in 1999, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. This season he has swept all before him, winning a series of big races with the champion Kauto Star, who became the only horse to regain the Cheltenham Gold Cup and also won his third King George VI Chase. Neptune Collonges landed the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown, Big Buck’s captured the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and Master Minded won his second Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase, while Denman showed that the flame was still burning following his illness when runner-up to Kauto Star in the Gold Cup. His seven victories at the 2009 Festival represent a new record.
John Smith’s Grand National Record: 1992 Just So (6th); 1996 Vicompt De Valmont (10th), Deep Bramble (PU bef 2 out), Brackenfield (UR 19th); 1997 Straight Talk (Fell 14th); 1998 What A Hand (Fell 1st), Court Melody (Fell 6th), General Crack (PU 11th); 1999 Strong Chairman (15th), Double Thriller (Fell 1st), 2000 Earthmover (Fell 4th), Torduff Express (Fell 13th), Flaked Oats (Fell 20th), Escartefigue (UR 30th); 2001 Earthmover (Fell 4th); 2002 Murt’s Man (PU bef 17th), Ad Hoc (BD 27th); 2003 Montifault (5th), Fadalko (UR 6th), Ad Hoc (UR 19th), Shotgun Willy (PU bef 22nd), Torduff Express (UR 27th); 2004 Exit To Wave (PU bef 9th); 2005 Royal Auclair (2nd), Heros Collonges (8th), L’Aventure (15th), Ad Hoc (Fell 22nd); 2006 Royal Auclair (Fell 1st), Le Roi Miguel (PU bef 19th), Cornish Rebel (PU bef 19th), Silver Birch (Fell 15th), Le Duc (UR 8th), Heros Collonges (UR 15th); 2007 Royal Auclair (Fell 9th), Le Duc (UR 6th), Eurotrek (PU bef 22nd), Thisthatandtother (PU bef 30th); 2008 Cornish Sett (12th), Mr Pointment (PU bef last), Turko (Fell 25th).