'Don't they watch Countryfile?' – Cheltenham row erupts as track watered before huge deluge with favourite forced out

A ROW erupted at Cheltenham Festival on Wednesday after a top trainer was forced to pull his hot favourite out of a race due to the rain.

Officials had watered the Prestbury Park to have it in perfect shape for two day of racing's biggest meet.



But the forecast downpour duly arrived and forced 12-time champion trainer Paul Nicholls to withdraw Bravemansgame just moments before the 2.10pm race.

Nicholls lashed out at course clerks in a scathing ITV interview, saying he saw on Countryfile that the rain was going to come.

And he couldn't understand why they watered the track knowing what was coming.

Nicholls said: "It's a hard decision and I always want to crack on and run but my gut feeling has been telling me all day…

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"They were watering last night and with all the rain that's been forecase I must admit I was a little bit worried.

"I pulled the horse out before at Exeter when it was testing ground. Not ideal today."

Asked if he understood why Clerk of the Course Jon Pullin decided to water, Nicholls fired back: "No, not at all.

"From Sunday on the forecast, you watch Countryfile, they said it was going to be a very wet day today.

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"Why water when you've got a wet day forecast?

"I'm not getting into any arguments about that but… it's a hard job, I wouldn't want to be clerk of the course.

"But as from Sunday it was always going to be a wet day today."

Nicholls said Bravemansgame will now be aimed at the Aintree Grand National Festival next month before a possible tilt at the King George on Boxing Day.

Venetia Williams and jockey Charlie Deutsch combined to win the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase with fav L'Homme Presse at 9-4.

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