Paul Nicholls: The thoughts on my Saturday runners at Ascot and Wetherby

Paul Nicholls has runners at Ascot and Wetherby on Saturday
Paul Nicholls has runners at Ascot and Wetherby on Saturday
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Paul Nicholls will be hoping to continue his fine start to the season as he saddles runners at Ascot and Wetherby on Saturday, and here the Betfair Ambassador gives his exclusive views on each...

"Pitt Zig is a class horse who always goes well fresh. He is in good shape and must he in here with a decent shout."

Ascot 13:50 - Bagad Bihoue

Has been a prolific horse for us over the past 17 months, winning nine times and he was sailing along in the lead 15 days ago at Fakenham looking all set to make it ten until stumbling on landing and unseating Bryony Frost three fences from home.

Bagad Bihoue remains in fine form at home although this handicap looks tougher than some of the novice chases he's been winning. There aren't too many options for him now and he will probably be having a well earned holiday after tomorrow.

He wouldn't want too much rain so I'll be checking the ground before letting him take his chance.

Ascot 13:50 - Copain De Classe

A big, raw horse who enjoyed a fruitful time last season, winning two novice hurdles. He is built like a chaser and while he remains a work in progress he jumps well at home and I'm looking forward to his debut over fences.

This novice handicap looks an ideal starting point for a horse who should be winning more races this winter.

On good ground being that much stronger now Copain de Class should be fine so I am hoping the rain stays away for him, too. But I would be slightly nervous about him over this trip of two miles, three furlongs if the ground turns soft.

Ascot 14:25 - Marracudja

Had a cracking first season over fences, particularly up to Xmas before performing with great credit against some of the best novices around.

I was thrilled with Marracudja's return to action 13 days ago at Kempton where he showed he doesn't have to make the running by settling nicely off a fast pace before looking all over the winner until he was caught close home by Oliver's Hill.

As we have to train him in a certain way he might just have needed that run a bit and I think he is a stronger, better horse this season.

Marracudja is at his best going right handed, and is fine at this trip of two miles, one furlong on good ground so I hope they don't get too much rain at Ascot.

Wetherby 14:40 - Ptit Zig

Never quite scaled the heights last season to match his exploits in the summer of 2016 when he won the French Champion Hurdle. But he ran some admirably honest races, in the process picking up plenty of valuable prize money.

Pitt Zig is not the easiest to place now so we might at some stage have another go over fences with him now that he is a bit older and wiser.

He gets in here without any penalties, which is a bonus, and should go close with a repeat of his fine run at Sandown on the final day of the season in April when he was just beaten by L'Ami Serge who went on to frank the form in France.

Pitt Zig is a class horse who always goes well fresh. He is in good shape and must he in here with a decent shout.

Ascot 15:00 - Dolos

Made a highly pleasing seasonal debut at Chepstow three weeks ago under top weight by finishing second to a well handicapped horse.

While the plan is to send Dolos over fences next time it makes sense to let him take his chance in this valuable handicap.

He is sure to run well again but I'd say his mark of 135 is right on the limit over hurdles as he doesn't have anything in hand on the handicapper.

Ascot 15:35 - Braqueur D'Or

Has turned inside since joining us at the end of April with an official mark of 109. He has made relentless progress since getting off the mark with a bloodless success at Stratford and is now up 10lbs to a new career high mark of 139 after his runaway victory at Ludlow last month.

While I hoped he'd win there against a competitive field I was surprised how quickly he put his seal on the race once Sam Twiston-Davies sent him to the front early in the finishing straight.

This is harder as you'd expect in a £100,000 race but he looked a better horse going right handed at Ludlow and there are a lot of exposed chasers in the field while he has shown he is on the up over the past few months.

It's fair to say he has been looking like the most improved horse in training. Big chance.

Ascot 15:35 - Art Mauresque

Has been a victim of his own success after a gutsy success early in the season at Chepstow a year ago and struggled afterwards off his lofty mark of 150.

He goes well fresh, appreciates good ground and it helps that Bryony Frost's claim takes a handy 5 lbs off his back.

This is Art Mauresque's first attempt at three miles. On decent ground I'd expect him to get it without any problems but soft ground would make things more difficult for him.

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