Paul Nicholls: The verdict on my 11 runners at Ayr on Saturday

Paul has a busy day of racing up at Ayr on Saturday
Paul has a busy day of racing up at Ayr on Saturday
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Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls gives us his exclusive thoughts on all his runners at Ayr on Saturday...

"He seems in top shape at home, his coat looks amazing, and he will love the ground so everything looks set fair in his bid to record a repeat of twelve months ago. I couldn't be happier with him."

- Paul on Vicente


13:40 - Keltus

Did well for us last summer, winning three times over fences and his final run when a close second to Coologue at Cheltenham was the best performance of the lot before he enjoyed a winter break when the ground turned against him.

He is fresh and well now, ready to go again and this looks a timely starting point over three miles on decent going. Should go well.

14:10 - Clan Des Obeaux

I've won this race three times in the last ten years and have had this in mind for Clan Des Obeaux for a while. That is why I decided to sidestep Cheltenham and Aintree with him and wait for this.

He probably wasn't quite right when he was disappointing behind Top Notch at Sandown in February on deep ground but is in good shape now and enjoyed his prep race for this when winning tidily at Exeter just over a month ago.

14:45 - Tommy Silver

This is a quick return for Tommy Silver who landed a valuable pot at Plumpton six days ago. He likes good ground and stayed on strongly there to win decisively after looking a shade outpaced at halfway.

He was well ridden at Plumpton by Stan Sheppard whose 3lbs claim here helps offset the 5lbs penalty for that win.

I've just kept Tommy Silver ticking over at home since Sunday and the faster gallop they go at Ayr the better he will finish as long as the race doesn't come too soon for him.

14:45 - Zubayr

I felt he ran better than everyone gave him credit for last time when he was sixth of twenty two at Aintree behind Rather Be over two and a half miles where he came there looking very dangerous before not quite finishing his race after making a mistake at the last flight.

While he has not come up to expectations this season we haven't lost faith in Zubayr and think he will be suited by dropping back down here to two miles if it is run at a fast pace.

He is slipping down the weights and would definitely have a chance on the form of an earlier run this season at Wincanton when he was coming to challenge the winner Sceau Royal until falling at the final flight.

15:20 - Romain de Senam

Another of mine who ran well at Aintree where a mistake four out proved costly before he kept on to finish a close fifth behind Double W'S.

Things haven't gone his way since he hacked up at Leicester in January but there is a decent race in him over fences and he will appreciate the track and trip at Ayr.

I am hopeful of a better showing here off a light weight.


Vivaldi Collonges

I'm still trying to work out how on earth Vivaldi Collonges has top weight in this.

Since he won a year ago at this meeting he hasn't had any mercy from the handicapper, yet he has shown next to nothing in three runs this season.

Although he has twice won at Ayr I can't see how he can possibly win the Scottish National from his lofty handicap mark.

Naturally I would be delighted to be proved wrong.


Won this race well a year ago and returns off the same mark after failing to fire on deep ground through the winter.

I was expecting much better from him in the Grand National earlier this month but he got no further than the first fence where he was brought down.

Luckily he was caught quickly so didn't waste much energy at Aintree. He seems in top shape at home, his coat looks amazing, and he will love the ground so everything looks set fair in his bid to record a repeat of twelve months ago. I couldn't be happier with him.

Arpege d'Alene

I've had this target in mind for Arpege d'Alene ever since his debut over fences at Chepstow in October.

While he is a bit quirky and spends a shade too much time in the air at his fences he is always staying on at the end of his races and finished a good fourth in the four mile NH Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

He is following the same route as Vicente a year ago and could be a big player in this if he is a bit sharper through the race and doesn't get too far behind early on.

16:30 - Connetable

Is one that hasn't really fired on all cylinders this season apart from a slightly lucky win over fences at Wincanton in December.

Connetable hasn't shown much back over hurdles the last twice and needs to take a big step forward to get involved here.

We are hoping cheekpieces instead of blinkers will help bring some improvement.

17:05 - Touch Kick

Has been too keen for his own good for much of the season, but is a bit more streetwise now and came good over hurdles last time at Taunton under a positive ride from Sam Twiston-Davies.

I'd say he is not badly handicapped and could run well again if he settles early on for Lorcan Williams who is a talented young claimer.

17:40 - Cap St Vicent

A horse I like who we bought at the breeze up sales at Cheltenham in December and then gave a bit of time to get used to our system.

While he been showing plenty of promise at home I would have preferred to give him a racecourse gallop to sharpen him up, but that hasn't been possible as the ground is too just too quick at the moment.

One for the future.

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