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

Paul sends the first group of his 25 Grand National meeting runners to Aintree on Thursday
Paul sends the first group of his 25 Grand National meeting runners to Aintree on Thursday

Paul Nicholls sends a strong team to Aintree for day one of the Grand National meeting on Thursday, with no fewer than seven runners in action. Here's his exclusive verdict on the chances of each, as well as thoughts on his four runners at Taunton...

"This has been his target all along, he's been round Aintree before and he has the assistance of top amateur Will Biddick. On The Fringe will be hard to beat but he faces different conditions here. Pacha Du Polder has a lot of things in his favour and I am expecting him to go close."

Aintree 16:05 - Pacha Du Polder

Aintree 13:40 - Vibtrato Valtat

Is the first of around 25 runners for us at Aintree over the next three days. This could be an ideal race for him to get back in the winning groove after he finished fourth in the Arkle at Cheltenham. Although Josses Hill finished in front of him that day I felt we paid the price for trying to win by chasing the pace. We know that it suits him to be ridden more patiently and that's what I'll ask Sam Twiston-Davies to do this time. With the step up to two-and-a-half miles in his favour I think he has a major chance.


Aintree 14:15 - All Yours and Bouvreuil

There was not much between this pair at Cheltenham and both should run well again today though, on the book, they have to improve to trouble the favourite Hargam. All Yours was a bit unlucky at the Festival as he was hampered three times at various stages of the race. I suspect he will love the flat track at Aintree and good ground will help, too.

Bouvreuil was staying on all the way to the line at Cheltenham and I expect him to go well again although this will be the fastest ground he has ever encountered.


Aintree 14:50 - Silviniaco Conti

Was one of my biggest disappointments of the week at Cheltenham. He under-performed there in a way which left me wondering if he will ever win the Gold Cup. On the plus side he has a fine record on flat tracks and won this race a year ago on the back of defeat in the Gold Cup. As he has never been a morning glory in his work it is hard to put a handle on how well he is going at home since Cheltenham. But he appears to be in a good place at the moment, Aintree seems to suit him, a small field should help and he will love the drying ground.


Aintree 16:05 - Pacha Du Polder

Has not been easy to train which is why we have taken our time with him this season. He ran really well when second to the smart chaser Teaforthree at Bangor, giving him weight, before hacking up at Ludlow. This has been his target all along, he's been round Aintree before and he has the assistance of top amateur Will Biddick. On The Fringe will be hard to beat but he faces different conditions here. Pacha Du Polder has a lot of things in his favour and I am expecting him to go close.


Aintree 17:15 - Lac Fontana and Katgary

Lac Fontana didn't run too badly at Cheltenham where the way he finished in the Coral Cup suggested the step up in trip here is just what he wants. He won a Grade 1 race at this track last year and as it looks as though he might be in the grip of the handicapper it makes sense to use Sean Bowen on the final day before his 5lbs claim drops to 3lbs. The way Sean is riding at the moment is a big positive.

Katgary won well at Newbury last time on ground that was softer than ideal. He should appreciate the conditions better here over a trip that seems to suit.


***

Taunton 15:40 - Vide Cave

This horse has been bitterly disappointing since he joined us from France. I was hoping he would have won over fences by now but he looks ordinary at best. He needs to improve to win here and with only four runners he will not find many better opportunities.


Taunton 16:15 - More Buck's

He is out of a sister to Big Buck's though his form is never going to match that of his famous relative. But he has been running alright on soft ground through the winter and has just been waiting for the better going that he gets here. He jumps well, will win races and has a chance today.


Taunton 16:50 - Vesperal Dream

Scrambled home at Wincanton last week on his return from a winter break after idling in front. He looked like winning comfortably there before pulling himself up and almost gifting the race to the runner-up. He has only gone up 4lbs so the idea is to run here over hurdles before switching back to fences on the final day of the season at Sandown. He will have to run up to his best form over hurdles to win today but he remains in good shape and has a definite chance.


Taunton 17:55 - Beau Phil

He finished third in dire ground at Kempton on his debut for us which definitely did not suit him. Although we are still learning about him we think he will enjoy the better ground this time and are hopeful of a good run.

You can read my thoughts on my Friday runners at Aintree here. and my verdict on my Grand National day runners here.

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