Paul Nicholls: The verdict on my four Friday runners at Cheltenham

Can Arpege D'Alene lead them home at Cheltenham?
Can Arpege D'Alene lead them home at Cheltenham?

It's the opening day of Cheltenham's International Meeting on Friday and Paul has a team of four running at Prestbury Park. Here are his views on the quartet...

"The Eaglehaslanded is fit and ready for a run now, will improve for it and will be going chasing after this."

12:20 - Arpege D'Alene

Only just beaten in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham in the spring and progressing nicely over fences. He won well last time at Aintree in a bit of a strange race as they missed out all the fences in the straight.

This looks more competitive but he's fit and well at home and again wears blinkers to help sharpen up his jumping as he can be a shade slow and careful at his fences.

13:30 - Southfield Theatre

I was annoyed to find he was put up 7lbs by the handicapper after falling at the last fence at Wincanton last time when upsides the winner.

He was lazy at times through the race, coming off and on the bridle, and missed a couple of fences because he is not the slickest jumper.

Southfield Theatre struggles as it is having done well to come back last season from a serious injury and I'd now argue that he is handicapped right to the limit of his ability.

I honestly don't think he can win off his new mark here but he's fit, fresh and well, enjoys good ground and obviously I'd love him to prove me wrong.

14:40 - The Eaglehaslanded

Is fit and ready for a run now, will improve for it and will be going chasing after this. I can't be confident as he is a stone higher than for his last win in the spring and looks to have a tough task at the weights.

15:45 - Brio Conti

Only beaten narrowly last time at Haydock. He jumps well, likes good ground but can be a bit keen so I am hoping for a strongly run race which will help him settle better.

While Brio Conti is a horse I like he is taking on some smart novices here.

You can read Tony Calvin's Friday Horse Racing Tips behind the link.

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