Paul Nicholls Runners Day 1 Preview: The exclusive verdict on my two Tuesday runners
Just the two runners for Paul Nicholls on the first day of this year's Cheltenham Festival, and here the Ditcheat handler gives his exclusive views on them both...
"I've had to be patient with Ibis Du Rheu who missed the best part of a year with a stress fracture. But he has form at the track having won the Martin Pipe decisively at the Festival two years ago over this trip"
Repeat of November run provides hope for Vicente
14:50 - Ultima Handicap Chase - Vicente
Vicente is a classy handicapper who has won the Scottish Grand National for the past two years and will be heading back to Ayr next month in a bid for the hat trick. He is fresh and well like so many of mine and always comes good at this time of year.
Conditions are definitely more testing than ideal for Vicente but he does stay forever and his ability to keep going when others have had enough could well come into play tomorrow. He surprised me by going close in bad ground at Cheltenham in November when he would just about have won if he had jumped the last fence better. Given that the ground is now heavy I am more hopeful than confident.
Ground possibly gone against previous Festival winner
17:30 - Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase - Ibis Du Rheu
I've had to be patient with Ibis Du Rheu who missed the best part of a year with a stress fracture. But he has form at the track having won the Martin Pipe decisively at the Festival two years ago over this trip and he has improved tonnes for his first run of the season a month ago at Newbury.
While Ibis Du Rheu is an excellent jumper and has a sporting chance each way in a really tight handicap I do think he would prefer better ground though that probably applies to plenty of others in the race.