The heavy ground has put pay to two of Paul Nicholls' intended three runners on day three of the Cheltenham Festival, leaving him with just Cat Tiger on Thursday...
Trip might just stretch his stamina
17:30 - Cat Tiger
He's a useful handicapper who has given his enthusiastic owner rider David Maxwell a lot of fun. He doesn't do much once in front and was caught late on at Doncaster after leading three fences from home. Last time David got the tactics spot on by popping his head in front on the line at Ascot and he will be trying to do much the same on Cat Tiger in the Kim Muir.
He was raised 6lbs after Ascot and I have small question mark that three and a quarter miles might stretch his stamina.
NB: Paul's other two intended runners on Thursday have been declared non-runners because of the heavy ground and will now be saved for Aintree
Original thoughts below.
Place claims if ground not too testing
14:50 - Saint Calvados (NON-RUNNER)
He was a close second to Min in the Ryanair two years ago but has been a bit of a challenge since joining us this season because he is not the easiest to train. He showed last time at Ascot that he can't handle attritional ground and also had a little bleed that day so we have changed his routine and done things differently since then.
Saint Calvados had a nice little spin round Wincanton recently, will enjoy going left handed and would have a little each-way chance if the ground is not too testing.
Reverting to normal tactics will suit but he has it all to do
16:10 - Simply The Betts (NON-RUNNER)
His lofty rating of 155 means that he has to carry top weight of 11st 12lbs which is quite an ask and he is still paying the price for his success in this race two years ago because he never seems to get dropped by the handicapper. But he ran well to be second at Cheltenham on New Year's Day giving loads of weight to the winner Vienna Court.
Last time he sulked when we dropped him in a bit to try to give him a chance of getting three miles. He likes to be ridden forward so that's what we will do in the Plate dropping back down to two and a half miles. I'd say he has it all to do.