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Paul Nicholls: Exclusive views on my Saturday runners at Chepstow

Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls gives his verdict on his Saturday runners at Chepstow
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Saturday's meeting at Chepstow is one Paul always likes to target as the jumps season moves up a gear or two, so no better place to kick off this season's Betfair column. Here are his thoughts on a big team going after prizes at the Welsh racecourse...

"While I have plenty of respect for Finian's Oscar I am hoping that Alcala's experience can prove crucial. Big chance."

13:55
Dynamite Dollars

While he didn't manage to win any of his three bumpers last season when he was a little backward he created a good impression in twice finishing third including a good run in a Listed event at Cheltenham on New Year's Day.

I watched Dynamite Dollars jump well during a schooling session round a French racecourse before we bought him. He is built like a proper National Hunt prospect, is fit and well, can only improve with experience and I am looking forward to him starting off over hurdles here. He will run well.


14:30
If You Say Run

She is a lovely mare who made the perfect to start to racing with an impressive victory in a point-to-point in Ireland despite some jumping errors.

She displayed a smart turn of foot that day and didn't surprise us at all when making all the running on her debut for us in a bumper at Chepstow in the spring on her way to winning by 13 lengths. If You Say Run is a smart mare who is ready to go, has a nice turn of foot and will appreciate the good ground. Decent chance.


15:05
Alcala

He has been a revelation this summer, coming into his own by completing a five-timer over fences. The highlight was unquestionably his commanding display in the Summer Plate at Market Rasen under an ice-cool ride from Sam Twiston-Davies.

Alcala is a forward going, bold jumper with a huge engine and his confidence is sky high so hopefully he should win plenty more races. He still seems to be improving and is well suited by the conditions of this Listed event as he is top rated on official figures and has to give only 3 lbs to Finian's Oscar who is making his debut over fences.

While I have plenty of respect for Finian's Oscar I am hoping that Alcala's experience can prove crucial. Big chance.


15:35
Dolos

Has been done no favours by the handicapper after a really solid first season over hurdles which saw him put in a cracking run to finish second on the final day at Sandown.

Dolos is honest and straight-forward, the ultimate professional who has already won twice over this course and Stan Sheppard takes a useful 3 lbs off his back.

He has improved physically over the summer and worked with plenty of zest over this course recently. He will probably be switching to fences shortly to take advantage of his four year old allowance.

Another who is in there with a shout.


16:10

Old Guard

We tried chasing with him early on last season but it wasn't a great success even though he won on his second start at Exeter, so we decided he would be happier back over hurdles.

Old Guard ran consistently well for the rest of the campaign, putting in some excellent races in defeat including in the Coral Cup. But it's fair to say his current mark of 150 is pretty tricky for him so it makes sense to use the 5lbs claim here of Bryony Frost who continues to shine as a conditional.

Old Guard has had an op to help his breathing since he last ran. While he's working nicely at home I'd suggest he has it to do, giving lumps of weight all round. I'm more hopeful than confident.


Peak To Peak

Did incredibly well to win three times last season given that it took me some time to learn about him and how to get the best out of him.

A big horse, he struggled in soft ground through the winter but got back on track once underfoot conditions improved in the spring.

I'm so pleased Peak To Peak squeezed into this at the foot of the handicap as the last of the 18 declared runners.

I've had this race in mind for him ever since he came back into training early in July, he has a perfect racing weight, has run well at Chepstow before and worked encouragingly over the course recently with Dolos.

It's competitive as you would expect for the prize money and Peak To Peak has to improve. He's a sporting each-way contender.


16:45, Chepstow
Boa Island

Is another of ours who shone last season, making up for lost time. He won three of his eight chases but the downside is that his handicap mark rose by 24lbs which makes things tougher for him now.

Boa Island is a big horse who performs well on top of the ground, has a light weight and runs well fresh so I've had this race in mind for him for a while.

But he is up in class here and I'd say he has a fair bit to do.

***


We caught up with Paul down at Ditcheat this week where he gave us his Five to Follow for the new season


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