Paul Nicholls at Cheltenham: The exclusive verdict on my 10 day three runners

It's a big afternoon for Paul who saddles 10 runners on World Hurdle day at Cheltenham
It's a big afternoon for Paul who saddles 10 runners on World Hurdle day at Cheltenham
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A one-two in the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle ensured day two ended on a positive note for Paul who sends out a 10-strong team on World Hurdle day at the Festival...

"Saphir de Rheu is another to have a wind operation before Christmas as he choked a little bit at Newbury and again at Ascot a couple of weeks later and the way he is working now suggests it has done the trick. He finished a close second in this race a year ago to Cole Harden, he looks great, will love the drier ground and is bound to run well in the race again."

13:30 - As De Mee

Although he has yet to win over fences he has been running well all season in smart company, finishing second to both Bristol de Mai and More of That.

He jumps, travels in his races, and will be fine on the better ground but this is a really hot race.

If he wins it will be a big bonus. If not then we will keep him a maiden for next season.


14:10 - Two Runners

Arpege Dalene

We gave him an operation in mid-winter to help his breathing and he then surprised us by winning on his comeback at Chepstow late last month when we expected him to need the outing.

While it was good to see Arpege d'Alene bounce back there the downside is that the handicapper has had his say by raising him 6lbs.

He is a nice, progressive horse who may well have improved 6lbs for that run, but I do wonder whether he would prefer softer ground than he encounters here.


Warriors Tale

We decided to switch Warriors Tale back to hurdles after he ran no sort of race in a novice chase at Catterick. I think you can put a line through that run as it came at a time when some of our horses were not firing.

Warriors Tale then showed his true colours when a close second at Musselburgh to Cup Final who is a leading fancy for the Pertemps Final.

As he was keen that day we may ride him a bit differently. He will love the better ground at Cheltenham and I expect him to run tidily.


14:50 - Vibrato Valtat

I think Vibrato Valtat has been crying out for this step up in trip after banging heads all winter with the best two mile chasers around. Although he is not quite a Grade 1 horse and has become hard to place I would have given him a big shout each-way here until Vautour gate-crashed the party!

Even so I'd say Vibrato Valtat is massively overpriced at 33-1.


15:30 - Two Runners

Saphir Du Rheu

I can't split Aux Ptitis Soins and Saphir Du Rheu who looks much tighter and fitter now than he did when he finished fifth in the Hennessy Gold Cup under a huge weight.

He is another to have a wind operation before Christmas as he choked a little bit at Newbury and again at Ascot a couple of weeks later and the way he is working now suggests it has done the trick.

Saphir de Rheu finished a close second in this race a year ago to Cole Harden, he looks great, will love the drier ground and is bound to run well in the race again.


Aux Ptits Soins

Has endured a difficult time since he won the Coral Cup so impressively a year ago and I have had to push him harder than I would have liked to get him here.

Last summer Aux Ptits Soins suffered from an infection in his foot that took an age to clear up so he came back into training later than the rest of our horses.

Then he had another setback with a sinus issue that needed three bouts of surgery before he was finally given the all clear.

While he looks great now and has been working well I'd obviously have preferred to give him a run or two somewhere ahead of the World Hurdle. Then again he won first time out for us at this meeting a year ago.

He also has to prove that he stays three miles though he was hardly stopping at the end of the Coral Cup.

It would be awesome if Aux Ptitis Soins could win this after all his problems but it is not out of the question.


16:10 -Three Runners

Art Mauresque

He needed the run recently on his comeback at Newbury where he struggled on the soft ground and will be much more at home on the faster going at Cheltenham. That is a major plus for him.

Hopefully he will have improved for that run and can be more involved in this competitive handicap.


Stilletto

Won really well last time on heavy going at Leicester but there was a price to pay for that success when the handicapper promptly raised him 10lbs.

Stilletto is very much going the right way and could well be good enough to be a player off his new mark, but I am not convinced he wants the ground as dry as it is at Cheltenham.


Salubrious

I believe there is another big race in this horse somewhere to go with his memorable triumph at the Festival two years ago.

Salubrious has been in and out all winter on the very heavy ground that we all thought he liked and now I suspect he needs the better ground he will get here.

He has had one or two training problems, but he is right now, and it wouldn't shock me to see him run well here.


17:30 - Mon Parrain

Is a smashing looking horse who is handicapped to the hilt, goes well fresh, is in good shape at the moment and should give his enthusiastic owner David Maxwell a great ride.

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