Another big weekend in the national hunt calendar is almost upon us and Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls commences it with runners at Newbury and Doncaster on Friday. Below are his exclusive thoughts...
"Everyone saw the improvement from Dolos when he switched to fences at Ascot last weekend and I am expecting a bold show in this from Adrien Du Pont who was a Grade 1 winner over hurdles."
12:20 - Kapcorse
A striking, sizeable individual who joined us after one run in France. He is still a bit of a big, backward baby learning about racing but showed some promise when sixth in a decent novice Hurdle at Exeter last month. I'm hoping that Kapcorse is one for the future once he gains more experience.
12:50 - Cyrname
Bought with chasing in mind he was much too keen over hurdles last season as he was always pulling way too hard, trying to tear off like a five furlong sprinter. So I was over the moon with his debut over fences at Huntingdon recently where he settled nicely in front for Sean Bowen and jumped brilliantly on his way to a decisive victory.
This is going to be a fair bit tougher for Cyrname who has been raised 9lbs to a mark of 139 but I am hopeful that he can progress now that that he is learning to relax and I wouldn't be surprised to see him defy top weight.
13:20 - Bill and Barn
Won a couple of Point-to-Points on soft ground two seasons ago before needing time off. He has taken a while to mature but is starting to come together now and worked nicely at Wincanton last month.
He struggled at Warwick three weeks ago once the leaders quickened and I suspect we will not see the best of him until he goes chasing.
13:50 - Adrien Du Pont
He was smart over hurdles, was always going to be a chaser, and made the perfect start over fences in an ordinary event at Fontwell early in October. I then planned to take him to the Rising Stars Chase at Wincanton until an abscess on his wither held him up a little bit.
So in a way this will be almost like the first run of the season again for Adrien Du Pont who is one of my five to follow this winter.
Although it will not be easy for him against Yanworth and Willoughby Court, who were rated higher than him over hurdles, you could hardly say either of them were impressive last time.
Everyone saw the improvement from Dolos when he switched to fences at Ascot last weekend and I am expecting a bold show in this from Adrien Du Pont who was a Grade 1 winner over hurdles.
14:25 - Ridgeway Flyer
Unbeaten in his last four races and has won both his starts over fences since joining us though it hasn't been entirely straightforward for him.
He kicked off by winning a novice handicap chase at Plumpton, defying a blunder at the fence, then doubled up in a two horse race at Taunton recently where he jumped left and clearly wasn't suited by having to make the running.
Ridgeway Flyer still won decisively that day by 18 lengths and will be much happier going left handed and getting a lead at Newbury. It looks like he is still improving though he will need a career best to complete the five timer.
13:30 - Gibbes Bay
Is a big, weak, quite backward type of horse who looked good in winning his bumper in the spring of 2016 but hasn't quite come up to expectations over hurdles.
I might have run him a bit too quickly last time at Wincanton after he finished a promising second at that track nine days earlier.
Gibbes Bay has always shaped as though he wants a trip and he has schooled well at home so I am looking for improvement from him now that he switches to fences over three miles.
14:00 - Monsieur Co
A big, gross horse who got lucky in a novice Hurdle at Wincanton last season with the clear leader coming down at the final flight. He then had a wind op in the summer and, unusually for one of mine, badly needed his first run of the campaign at Taunton just over two weeks ago because it takes no end of work to get him ready.
He still ran with promise there, jumping boldly until tiring half a mile from home.
While Monsieur Co has had plenty of hard graft since then and will be much sharper this time, looking at the size of him I wouldn't be shocked if he also needs this outing to bring him to full fitness.
Another chance to watch Paul Nicholls on his Five to Follow for this season;