Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls has four runners at Sandown this afternoon and one at Exeter. Here he gives his exclusive thoughts to betting.betfair...
12:40 Sandown - Valco De Touzaine
Is a bit more experienced than our usual buys from France, and has already shown a fair level of form, winning twice and then probably running his best race in defeat when third at Auteuil last time. Is by Dom Alco, a sire that I obviously rate highly, and hopefully he can progress for me with his racing, as plenty of others of his stock have. It won't be easy with his double penalty but, to counter that, I suppose that I have seen stronger Sandown juvenile contests. And from what I have seen from him at home so far, he is a decent sort too.
13:45 Sandown - Southfield Theatre
We throw him in at the deep end on his hurdling debut against some smart and highly-regarded sorts in a Grade 2, but he is a horse I rate highly. Showed some decent form in two starts when trained by Caroline Keevil last season, including when beaten around four lengths by The New One on New Year's Day, and impressed me when winning at Cheltenham on his first start for us in October. The form has taken a couple of knocks but the third won well at Ascot and this is a horse who I said before his reappearance win was one of immense potential and scope. I stand by those comments, even though this is a very warm contest for his hurdling debut.
14:20 Sandown - Pacha Du Polder
I was kicking myself for running him in the Old Roan over 2m4f on his reappearance, instead of over 3m. I aimed him at the Aintree race ever since he came in; his work leading up to the race was very promising and I thought that he would get away with it, off what I thought was a decent mark of 150, and having shown he didn't lack pace when winning a match over 2m at Sandown and over 2m4f at Ayr at the end of the season. But at the back of my mind I always suspected that he was more of a stayer than a speed horse, and they were always going a stride too quick for him at Aintree. Perhaps he simply wasn't good enough there or that wasn't his form, but I can tell you that I haven't given up on the horse just yet. This looks a very competitive little race and he has to put that poor reappearance run behind him, but let's see what he can do over this trip. I like him.
14:55 Sandown - Deireadh Re
Was very progressive over hurdles, and had clearly had too much for the season when running badly on his chasing debut at Fakenham in May. We gave him a breathing operation afterwards, and I warned before Chepstow that he could need the run as a result, like a few of mine who had had the op at the time. The form he showed there was only modest but he travelled well enough there before getting tired in the straight, and I would confidently expect a much improved run here. A mark of 130 looks very fair on his hurdling form, too.
15:50 Exeter - Vibrato Valtat
Ran in a couple of good ground bumpers in the French provinces, finishing second on his debut and then winning over 1m5f at Angouleme in late September. Clearly, that form is pretty hard to gauge and he carries a 7lb penalty against some interesting unraced rivals like Storm Lantern and Comte D'Anjou, as well as Exeter third Allons Zee. We haven't had him long but he goes nicely enough, and this will tell us more about where we stand with him.