Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls gives his verdict on the chances of his eight Thursday runners including Frodon who he expects to relish conditions...
"It helps that Frodon relishes testing ground as he showed by winning a competitive handicap by seventeen lengths at Cheltenham in January, form that has been well franked since. The more it rains the better he will like it and I expect him to run very well."
Ground looks to have gone against Modus
13:30 - JLT Novice' Chase - Modus
Has taken to chasing very well and comes here on the back of an impressive all the way success at Kempton. He has won three of his four starts over fences, is up to a mark of 156 and I loved the way he winged the last fence at Kempton to seal victory.
I couldn't be happier with Modus but, and it is a big but, I would prefer much better ground for him and all my other runners on Thursday apart from Frodon. If it was genuinely good ground this week I would be fancying plenty of mine over the four days. As it is I am lukewarm about nearly all of them.
Pertemps has been Connetable's target
14:10 - Pertemps Network Final - Connetable
This has been his target for a while so I was pleased to see him just make the cut at declaration time. Connetable has been knocking on the door all season until he ran below par at Chepstow last time.
Nothing come to light afterwards so maybe he had an off day. Whatever the reason it is hard to be confident about his chances in this fiercely competitive handicap.
More rain the better for Frodon
14:50 - Ryanair Chase - Frodon
A model of consistency this season and performed well in his first Grade 1 last time at Ascot behind Waiting Patiently where he finished third and paid the price for being too keen in the first mile.
We will not be making the same mistake today and will be dropping him in at the start. It helps that Frodon relishes testing ground as he showed by winning a competitive handicap by seventeen lengths at Cheltenham in January, form that has been well franked since. The more it rains the better he will like it and I expect him to run very well.
Old Guard may not line up if too soft
15:30 - Stayers' Hurdle - Old Guard
I am really worried about the ground for Old Guard who has been in top form all season and looked as good as ever when winning the National Spirit last time at Fontwell in style over two and a half miles.
With plenty more rain forecast overnight I could well pull him out as he doesn't want it too soft, particularly as this is his first try at three miles. He hated the heavy ground at Cheltenham on New Year's Day and if he doesn't run tomorrow then I'll keep him fresh for Aintree.
Movewiththetimes looking to go one better
16:10 - Brown Advisory Stable Plate - Movewiththetimes
Runs here in preference to the Close Brothers Chase on Tuesday as we were hoping for better ground which is not now likely to be the case. While he has yet to win over fences from three starts at Cheltenham he has been in the money each time and so has valuable experience of the course.
He was always going to be a chaser, jumps soundly and though he can handle soft going he would be better in drier conditions. Movewiththetimes is fresh and well and his form was well advertised by Coo Star Sivola on Tuesday. But at the risk of sounding like a broken record I'd be much more hopeful if the rain stayed away.
This has long been the plan for Romain
16:10 - Brown Advisory Stable Plate - Romain De Senam
Is another who may not run tomorrow if the forecast is correct. I've had this race in mind for him all season as the track and trip are perfect for him but the same cannot be said about the ground as he definitely wants it a lot better than he is going to encounter here.
So many of my plans for this Cheltenham have been washed away by all the recent rain. You wait all winter to run them on nice ground and suddenly we are in the monsoon season. So I will be thinking long and hard in the morning about running Romain De Senam.
Buck's will need to improve on what we've seen
17:30 - Kim Muir Chase - Captain Buck's
Has been running consistently well without winning this season though he briefly looked like prevailing at Ludlow last time when he hit the front a bit too early. He needs to improve a fair bit on everything he has done so far and I'd say there is no chance of him getting to the front too soon in this company!
Braqueur in good health on comeback
17:30 - Kim Muir Chase - Braqueur D'Or
Has had a nice break since his last run three months ago and is fresh and well for this though he is yet another of mine who would prefer much better ground than he is going to encounter here. I've booked the top amateur Will Biddick for the progressive Braqueur d'Or who I am training for a spring campaign.