Paul Nicholls has some big-price each-way shouts on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival but he's hoping to win the RSA Chase with a well-fancied contender...
"This is the perfect race for Topofthegame who jumps very well, worked nicely on Saturday and will love the soft ground. Big chance."
- Paul Nicholls on Topofthegame
This is the perfect race and we have a big chance
RSA Chase 14:10 - Topofthegame
A giant of a horse, he has long been the apple of my eye and was always going to be a chaser. He ended last season finishing a close second to Bleu Berry in the Coral Cup under top weight.
Topofthegame ran a blinder at Exeter on his return to fences at Exeter early in December when he stayed on to be a clear second to Defi Du Seuil despite giving away 20 lengths at the start.
He then looked like winning the Kauto Star at Kempton where he led three out before half idling and failing to hold the renewed challenge of La Bague Au Roi. That is top class form and I'd like to think if we had delayed our challenge the result would have been even closer.
This is the perfect race for Topofthegame who jumps very well, worked nicely on Saturday and will love the soft ground. Big chance.
He's come on a bundle since Ascot
Coral Cup 14:50 - Brio Conti
I was shocked when Brio Conti won at Ascot last month on his second start after a long lay off as he still looked on the burly side and was not at all wound up. He has come on bundles since then and has to be a player in this off a 5lbs higher mark.
We have always thought Brio Conti was a good horse and he showed what he can do two years ago by hacking up at Kempton on the Saturday of Cheltenham week. That was on good ground but he also has plenty of winning form on soft. Solid each way chance.
A more patient ride to get closer to Altior
Champion Chase 15:30 - Politologue
We are all playing second fiddle to Altior in this but you can't win if you are not in and on his best form Politologue has sound chances of finishing in the money.
We are going to ride him differently to last year when we paid the price for being too positive with the result that he got very tired and dropped back to fourth behind Altior. This time, with the tongue tie back on, you can expect Harry Cobden to be more patient on Politologue before trying to have a crack at Altior late on.
That is the plan even if it is a tall order. He has been running to a consistent level all season and beat Min in a Grade 1 at Aintree last April. Lets hope we can finish in front of him again now.
No forlorn hope at a big price
Fred Winter 16:50 - Dogon
Is our sole runner in this after our main hope Friend or Foe failed to make the cut which is a shame.
Dogon has worked like a good horse ever since he joined us from France mid season and I was a little disappointed with his debut for us at this track on trials day in January. He was much better next time at Wincanton, racing keenly before finishing strongly from off the pace to be second and has since been dropped 5lbs.
Dogon seems to be improving every week since he has been with us as he gets used to our system and flew in his last piece of work on Saturday. So it would be no surprise to me if he runs well at a big price.
Glory won't lack for fitness
Champion Bumper 17:30 - Ask For Glory
I run two in this and it is hard to split them on their homework. Ask For Glory is a lovely prospect who was highly impressive winning his bumper in Ireland on soft ground as a four-year-old.
He has done seriously well since joining us and blew the opposition away on his debut in a bumper at Chepstow late in December. While the form of that race isn't strong he did hack up.
Our plans to send Ask For Glory to Newbury just over a month ago were snookered by the flu lockdown but he will not lack for fitness and continues to please at home. An interesting each-way contender.
Deserves his chance in this Grade 1
Champion Bumper 17:30 - Flic Ou Voyou
We have always liked Flic Ou Voyou who won both his bumpers at Wincanton late last year from the front and is still improving. He found the trip on the sharp side on his debut for us at Fontwell in the spring and later had a breathing op which has clearly worked.
The original plan was to send him hurdling by now but he has fully earned a crack at this Grade 1 bumper and on what we see at home he shouldn't be dismissed as a long shot.