TALENTED apprentice Megan Nicholls will be looking to maintain her unbeaten record in the Silk Series Lady Riders' Handicap at York on Friday.

Nicholls, who is apprenticed to her father, 11-time champion National Hunt Trainer Paul, won the inaugural renewal of the race last year when guiding the Richard Fahey-trained, International Man, to a one-length success.

Nicholls has since had her claim reduced to 3lb, which she will put to good use aboard the Simon Crisford-trained, Chance. Her mount goes in search of a hat-trick having posted convincing victories at Chepstow and Nottingham, on his last two starts.

“He’s two from two since going handicapping and he’s a horse who has taken a bit of time to relax,” Nicholls said.

“He used to run very keen, but the penny seems to be dropping and he looks progressive. He’s up to a mark of 81, but he’s going in the right direction and if he relaxes again, he’s open to more improvement.”

Nicholls also believes this test will suit the upwardly mobile three-year-old, who will face a slight step up in trip and is versatile regarding underfoot conditions.

“I imagine it will be beautiful ground, but if it did end up with a bit more cut, he should handle it being a son of Lope De Vega,” Nicholls added.

“I can’t imagine it will be too much of a problem either way. I also think he’s a horse who will get further in time.”

Nicholls will be partnering Chance for the first time on the track tomorrow, but she has experience of the three-year-old having sat on him at Crisford’s Newmarket base.

Indeed, Nicholls has been a familiar figure on work mornings at Kremlin House Stables this summer.

“Some weeks I ride out for Simon two or three days, others I can’t get in – Simon has been very good and he leaves it to me,” Nicholls said.

“I link it with my rides and so far it has worked out quite nicely. I very much enjoy going in and riding out and sitting on some nice horses – it’s great to be part of the team and to be getting a couple of chances. Long may it continue.”

Regarding Chance, Nicholls added: “I’ve ridden him at home and he seems very well in himself. I’m looking forward to sitting on him on the track.”

Chance is one of ten runners set to line up in the Silk Series Lady Riders' Handicap, which kicks off York’s six-race card at 6pm on the only evening of the Knavesmire season.

The £50,000 feature contest, is the Listed British Stallion Studs EBF Lyric Fillies' Stakes, which has attracted a field of eight fillies and mares.

They include William Haggas’ Frankellina, who finished placed in the Tattersalls Musidora over course and distance then sixth in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot. Also entered is Encapsulation, who made a highly-promising debut for Andrew Balding when running on strongly to grab second in Listed company at Sandown, suggesting this extended mile and a quarter will suit her well. Both face the unbeaten charge of James Fanshawe, Kirstenbosch, who is the market leader despite  her step up in class.

The action continues on Saturday with a high-class seven-race card, spearheaded by the Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes.


2021 Season at a glance

  • Dante Festival | Wed 12 - Fri 14 May
  • First Saturday | Sat 22 May
  • June Meeting | Fri 11 - Sat 12 June
  • Summer Saturday | Sat 26 June
  • John Smith's Cup Meeting | Fri 9 - Sat 10 July
  • Music Showcase Weekend | Fri 23 - Sat 24 July
  • Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival | Wed 18 - Sat 21 August
  • September Sunday | Sun 5 September
  • October Finale | Fri 8 - Sat 9 October