Paul Nicholls: Cill Anna has a first rate chance at Doncaster

Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls
Newbury, Doncaster and Kelso are Paul's focus on Saturday
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Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls discusses his Saturday runners at Newbury, Doncaster and Kelso and picks a big, strong mare as his best chance of the day...

15:00 - Cill Anna

"A big, strong mare who relishes testing conditions, stays three miles, has a touch of class and a great attitude. I’ve had this race in mind for her for a while. First rate chance."


Ready for his second race of the week

12:55 - Ashutor

He has been knocking on the door all season and came good in style in a canter at Catterick on Tuesday. He clearly enjoyed himself that day and as you wouldn't know he'd had a race I am turning him out again under a 7lbs penalty in a more competitive contest ridden by Katie O'Farrell.

Miranda aiming to be build on cracking run

14:40 - Cliffs of Dover and Miranda

It's good to have him back after a spell on the sidelines with a leg injury. He is a wonderfully tough and genuine dual purpose horse but is likely to need this which I am hoping will put him spot on for the Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle in which he will again be ridden by Lorcan Williams.

I thought Miranda ran a cracker last time at Musselburgh where she was probably in front a bit sooner than ideal. She is up another 3lbs but our good conditional Bryan Carver claims a handy 5lbs and all her best form has been on flat tracks. Hopefully she can be competitive again.

Mont Des Avaloirs the pick of trio

15:15 - Secret Investor, San Benedeto, Mont Des Avaloirs

Our horses have a great record in this race with nine wins since 2006 and we run three this time including last year's victor San Benedeto.

Secret Investor returns to Newbury after chasing home Native River at the Berkshire course on good ground. While dropping back in trip is not an issue as two-and-a-half miles suits him well on a galloping track I wouldn't want much more rain for him.

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San Benedeto won this race tidily a year ago and is now 3lbs higher on a mark of 150 so Bryan Carver's 5lbs claim will help. This is San Benedeto's time of year and he is in top form at home but the going is a concern because nearly all his winning has been on drier ground and the forecast is not encouraging.

Mont Des Avaloirs has been mixing it in smart company and travelled like the best horse last time at Newbury until tiring late on over a trip that stretched his stamina. As he was a bit free that day dropping back in trip to two-and-a-half miles should play to his strengths. Given a fast run race Bryony Frost should be able to find a bit of cover on Mont Des Avaloirs who looks the pick of our trio.

Talent needs to find his footing

16:25 - Master Tommytucker

He has bags of talent and always schools well at home so his record of three falls from four starts over fences is obviously hugely frustrating. He was tanking along in the lead at Kempton a week ago, jumping for fun until coming down at the same fence which caught him out on Boxing Day.

He had a proper schooling session with Bryony on Tuesday and was again foot perfect on Friday. Now he has to do it back on the racecourse at Newbury. Win lose or draw he will not be going to Cheltenham.


Stronger Stayer in with a decent chance

13:50 - Blackjack Kentucky

The more it rains at Doncaster the better for Blackjack Kentucky who has got his act together this season and readily beat the Grand National contender Walk In The Mill at Chepstow a month ago. He is a strong stayer, jumps well keeps galloping and has decent prospects in this.

Going to be tough off high mark

14:25 - Dolos

He is a thoroughly consistent and likeable chaser but I suspect this is going to be tough for him running off a career high mark of 161 after his spirited defeat of First Flow at Sandown a month ago. He has to give plenty of weight to some progressive handicappers.

Best chance of the day

15:00 - Cill Anna

Her form is red hot with the horses she beat at Warwick and Wincanton winning since in good company. Cill Anna is a big, strong mare who relishes testing conditions, stays three miles, has a touch of class and a great attitude. I've had this race in mind for her for a while. First rate chance.

In the form of his life

15:35 - Worthy Farm

He is in the form of his life and is another of ours who has shown his liking for testing ground with his two recent wins coming in the mud at Wincanton. Blinkers the last twice have definitely helped, too. Worthy Farm is an out and out stayer, keeps galloping and could be one for the Coral Welsh National at the end of the year.


Hoping for improvement

13:37 - Stratagem

Beat Solo, no less, on his hurdles debut in France before he was bought by David Maxwell. Stratagem was then beaten at Bangor three weeks ago ridden by David. with that form looking solid I am looking for an improved show from Stratagem.

Opportunity to take another step forward

14:12 - Moabit

He needed his first run over fences at Plumpton earlier this month after being off the course for 16 months and finished tired. He has come on for the outing, is a useful dual purpose horse and is rated 8lbs lower than his hurdles mark. So I'm hopeful he can take a nice step forward here.

Leading chance will relish heavy ground

14:45 - Calva d'Auge

He is progressing really well, is on a roll after winning the last twice and heavy ground holds no fears for him. With the step up in trip to two-and-a-quarter miles sure to suit I'd say he has has a leading chance in this valuable Grade 2 novice hurdle.

Grand National prospect jumps soundly

15:22 - Saint Xavier

He was bought by David Maxwell with the Grand National in mind and needs to run here to qualify for Aintree. Although we've been campaigning him over hurdles this season he jumps soundly as you'd expect of a horse who has won over fences at Auteuil. I've also declared him in the Grimthorpe at Doncaster at 15:35 as a precaution in case Kelso is called off.


Paul's Best Chance on Saturday: Cill Anna (15:00 at Doncaster): She has plenty in her favour in ideal conditions.

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