CHAMPION trainer Paul Nicholls has described former Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Dodging Bullets as a “legend” following the horse’s retirement.
A decision was made by connections to retire the nine-year-old, bred by Frankie Dettori, after he was pulled up in the Grand Annual – the Cheltenham Festival’s concluding race.
Although winning his first three starts over fences, including a brace at Grade Two level, it was in his second season chasing in 2014-2015 that the horse enjoyed his finest moments under Sam Twiston-Davies.
Despite meeting with defeat on his comeback, Dodging Bullets rattled up victories in the Tingle Creek and Clarence House, beating Sprinter Sacre, before handing the 10-time champion trainer his fifth success in the Champion Chase.
Nicholls said: “It was the right thing to do as we didn’t want to see him just running down the field as he has been a legend.
“He came back safe and sound with his ears pricked, which was the main thing. It was amazing he got to that pinnacle; he never really progressed after that and some horses do that. I could not have asked for him to do any more. The season before he won the Champion Chase he ran some nice races and did well, but then he won the Tingle Creek, Clarence House and Champion Chase.”
With horses of the calibre of Dodging Bullets not the forces of old, it explains why Nicholls has been overtaken by Nicky Henderson in the race to be champion trainer.