Paul Nicholls: The verdict on my seven runners on day two at Aintree

Al Ferof is back in sparkling form following a breathing operation says Paul Nicholls
Al Ferof is back in sparkling form following a breathing operation says Paul

The second day of the Aintree Grand National meeting is quickly upon us and, after a winning start on Thursday, Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls has a further seven runners to go to war with. Here the Ditcheat handler talks exclusively about his chances of returning home with a winner or two on the eve of the big race...


Aintree 16:05 - Reuben Cotter

"I've had this race in mind for him ever since as he jumps so well and is suited by a flat track. With a maximum field of 30 runners the Topham is a hard race to win but Reuben Cotter is in very good shape and I am expecting a big run from him."

Aintree 13:40 - Pearl Swan

I thought he ran nicely last time at Cheltenham when we probably made a bit too much use of him too soon. This is a tough handicap but he has come on for that run and the flat track will suit him.


Aintree 14:15 - Vago Collonges

Has been running tidily all season and fully earned a crack at this. I've been waiting for some time for the opportunity to run him over two miles on this better ground and don't think this is the most competitive Grade 2 race for Novices. So I am quietly confident of a decent show from him.


Aintree 14:50 - Two Runners

Saphir Du Rheu

Ran a smashing race in finishing second to Cole Harden in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham just in front of his stable companion Zarkandar.

Before the Festival there wasn't an inch between this pair when they worked together at home and there hasn't been since which shows they remain in good shape. Saphir Du Rheu was always going to come back to fences, he has done plenty of schooling and this looks a decent opportunity though it is all about the future with him.

He's running here as I want to go chasing with him next season and feel that three miles over hurdles on this track on good ground could be too sharp for him.


Irish Saint

Has already won three times over fences this season and ran really well at Cheltenham last time when he possibly paid the price for taking on Vautour over the first two miles.

He's a good horse, and has earned a shot at this Grade 1 race though he could do with a bit more ease in the ground.


Aintree 15:25 - Al Ferof

Is back in sparkling form at home following an operation at the start of the year to sort out a breathing issue. The first we knew there was a problem was when he made a noise one morning a month after the George V1 Chase.

He has been pleasing me for several weeks now and had a nice gallop round Wincanton with Rocky Creek seven days ago. Though it is always possible we will not get to see the best of him until next season.

It's a bonus that Al Ferof missed Cheltenham and is coming fresh to Aintree. While he has loads of speed it may be that he wants a bit further than two and a half miles these days. But if he is in the same form that he showed at Ascot first time this season then he will run a mighty race.


Aintree 16:05 - Reuben Cotter

Is a gorgeous looking horse who returned from a long break with an impressive victory at Kempton almost a month ago. I've had this race in mind for him ever since as he jumps so well and is suited by a flat track. With a maximum field of 30 runners the Topham is a hard race to win but Reuben Cotter is in very good shape and I am expecting a big run from him.


Aintree 17:15 - Persian Delight

A half-brother to the smart hurdler Royal Shakespeare, he was bought by a group of friends at the first auction I've ever held at my annual owners' day early in September. So they were over the moon after he hacked up on his debut in very soft ground in a bumper at Taunton in February.

We didn't really expect him to win like that and he seems to have improved a fair bit since then, though the going is very different this time. We will know more about him after this.

You can read my views on my twelve horses running on Grand National day here.

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