Just the five runners for Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls on Saturday but there are some quality performers among them and some big runs are expected...
Best Chance: "Southfield Stone. I'm expecting a big run from him going left handed over his ideal trip."
Really happy and I'm expecting a good run
Cheltenham 14:05 - Stratagem
He joined us after he won as a three-year-old race at Auteuil a year ago on his debut when he beat Solo but then took a bit of time to acclimatise before winning on heavy ground at a Kelso. He has only run three times and has turned inside out over the summer and is now a beautiful animal, big and strong. I'm really happy with him now and expect him to give a good account here before he goes chasing. With Stratagem's owner David Maxwell out injured Harry Cobden takes the ride.
Fit, ideal conditions, and I expect him to run well
Cheltenham 14:40 - Southfield Stone
Just beaten in the Pendil Chase at Kempton late in February he remains a novice until December 1 so this is an ideal starting point for him over a trip that suits. We have tweaked his wind over the summer and he will enjoy going left handed at Cheltenham. Southfield Stone is one of those horses who always looks enormous and while he was beaten first time out last season when he needed the run I could not possibly have done more graft with him this time. He has worked and worked, is fit and I think he will run very well.
Course specialist but is bound to improve for the run
Cheltenham 15:50 -Frodon
He has a huge task on a mark of 164 giving lumps of weight to his rivals but he has to start somewhere, he is ready to go and we know he likes Cheltenham. Frodon found life a fair bit tougher last winter after a stellar season and I'm sure he needs a longer trip now as he has lost a bit of boot over two miles, five furlongs. Although he has done plenty at home and couldn't be better in himself he still looks a shade on the burly side and is bound to improve for the run.
Still learning about him and not sure what to expect
Kelso 12:50 - Rocheston
I am still learning about Rochester who has had just the one race two years ago when he finished third in a novice hurdle at Bordeaux Le Bouscat when trained by Guillaume Macaire. He is a bit of an unknown, a nice type who is not a morning glory at home so I'm not sure what to expect from him on his debut for us.
Ideal starting point for a horse that will be aimed at the Nationals
Kelso 14:33 - Truckers Lodge
He went up 14lbs to 155 for winning the Midlands Grand National by a street just before the lockdown so things are going to be tougher for him, but he is ready to start and the more it rains at Kelso the better as he relishes testing conditions. If he is going to run next in the Ladbroke at Newbury or another big handicap elsewhere then he needs to be out now and this race fits in nicely with his programme.
I've left plenty to work on and it's in his favour that the Kelso Chase is a limited handicap and Lorcan Williams claims a valuable 3lbs. Further ahead I am looking at the Coral Welsh National and then Aintree for Truckers Lodge. Who knows, he might have improved to the point that he is better than a handicapper.
*Best chance. Southfield Stone. I'm expecting a big run from him going left handed over his ideal trip.