Cheltenham returns to our screens on Friday with a quality-looking seven race card, and Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls has five runners to look forward to...
"Good to soft conditions should be ideal for Getaway Trump who has improved again since Warwick and was third in this race a year ago to Al Dancer."
Ground ideal but he will improve for this outing
13:15 - Ask For Glory
He is a really nice horse, a lean, athletic type who looks fit, but actually I've been minding him a bit and don't overwork him at home. We've done everything we can but horses like him can tend to need their first run more than most of mine. I'm hopeful Ask For Glory is ready and the going looks ideal as he doesn't want it too heavy. Because we look after him I'm sure he will improve for the run win, lose or draw. We re-cauterised his palate in the summer and he will be going chasing at some stage.
Big step up in class but he's improving and I'm hopeful
14:25 - Soldier of Love
Soldier of Love is the complete opposite to Ask For Glory in that you can't give him too much work. He has been amazing this season, starting off winning at Bangor on Dee In July from a mark of 118 and is now up to 144 after his fourth success in a row. He has loads of stamina, stays all day and I was astounded by the way he worked with a decent horse on Wednesday morning. He looks fabulous at the moment and is improving all the time although this Class 2 Chase is a huge step up in class for him. I'm hopeful of a good run and I'm sure Cheltenham will suit him.
Stiff task off this mark
15:35 - Dolos
We re-cauterised his palate in the summer and he always goes well fresh as he showed by finishing second in the Haldon Gold Cup last November. While he looks extremely well and is definitely fit I'd say he faces a very stiff task racing off a mark of 161 which makes him so hard to place.
Getting his act together but needs to sharpen up his jumping
16:45- Getaway Trump
He needed his first run at Fontwell where he was beaten by an improving horse and then won nicely at Warwick from a horse who has since franked the form. You could say he is fit at last. Good to soft conditions should be ideal for Getaway Trump who has improved again since Warwick and was third in this race a year ago to Al Dancer. While I still have high hopes that he can be a smart chaser he does need to sharpen up his jumping to be top class because he tends to be a little careful at his fences.
Ground in his favour and I'm expecting more this season
17:15 - Wild Max
He won twice towards the end of last year before running too free in the Scottish Supreme Novice Hurdle at Musselburgh. I am expecting more this season, and the better ground at Cheltenham should be in the favour of Wild Max who runs in a first time tongue tie.
*Best chance: Getaway Trump. He is starting to get it together over fences now.