Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls spoke to betting.betfair about his three runners at Cheltenham this afternoon...
12:15 Cheltenham - Rebel Rebellion
I thought he may just need the run at Exeter on his reappearance but he did it well, even though the form of the race wasn't great. And he stepped up on that level of form with a very good fourth to Captain Conan and Sire De Grugy over 2m in the soft at Cheltenham last time, which is clearly some of the strongest 2m novice form around. He stayed well over hurdles, winning over this trip at Kempton, so I would hope that the step up in distance here will bring about improvement. Which would put him with a chance in a very competitive race.
13:20 Cheltenham - Dark Lover
Was off the track for a long time with a leg injury before winning decisively on his reappearance over course and distance in October. The handicapper reacted by putting him up 11lb, which was always going to be difficult to overcome next time. As, invariably with these comeback horses, you tend to have them pretty straight. So I wasn't too disappointed by his seventh last time, especially as the really testing ground there probably wouldn't have been ideal for him as he travels so well. He clearly isn't the best handicapped horse in here, but I give him each way claims. But if there is any significant rain that would count against him.
15:05 Cheltenham - Saint Roque
Wasn't finishing in his races last season, when we found him to be choking. So he was given a breathing operation in the summer and we fancied him on his reappearance here over 2m5f. And he was travelling well and looking like a big player when brought down three out. It is difficult to say with confidence whether he would have won there but at that stage you have to say that he was the most likely winner. Whenever horses have a bad experience like that, it is always a worry how they will react when you next get them back on the track. But he has looked fine at home, and he races off the same mark here.
A winning pointer, we step him up to 3m here. Clearly it was his wind, and not the trip, that was the issue when he was folding tamely over this kind of trip last season. But, being frank, I have to say that I am still in the dark with him as to if he will truly get the 3m in what could be soft ground; if he does, then he should go very well.
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