Paul Nicholls: The verdict on my runners on Betfair Chase day at Haydock and my six at Ascot
A huge day for Paul Nicholls with six at Haydock including a runner in the Betfair Chase as well as six down at Ascot. The Betfair Ambassador's biews on the chances of each are here...
"Although he is the outsider of the party I have lots of confidence in him because he is sparkling at home, schooling nicely and worked well at Wincanton."
Haydock 12:10 - Grand Sancy should be involved at the business end
I've been tickled pink by the way Grand Sancy has progressed this autumn, winning twice and finishing second in his only other outing.
He wasn't finishing his races last season after being too keen for his own good but a wind op seems to have sorted that out as he is running all the way to the line now. He's is also taller and stronger now which obviously helps too.
Grand Sancy gets into this Listed race without a penalty and should again be involved at the business end.
Haydock 13:15 - Can't wait to see Magic Saint
He is a really exciting horse who was sent to us this summer by his owners after winning twice over hurdles and twice over fences at Auteuil in France. Although he is still only four he looks a natural over fences, copes well with soft ground and showed plenty of stamina in his last start.
Magic Saint impressed in a gallop at Wincanton last week. We can't run him in a novice Chase so he goes for this Graduation Chase and we will see how he gets on before making a plan.
We do like him a lot. He is a lovely type who could be anything and I can't wait to see him start for us.
Haydock 13:50 - Expecting a big run from Cliffs of Dover
You can put a line through his run in the Cesarewitch as he jumped off in front, was far too free and then got tired. Before that he had been doing well on the flat, winning twice at Lingfield and then back on the turf at Haydock.
The trip of two-and-a-half miles will suit him here and he will not be jumping off in front this time! Harry will drop him in, get him settled, then try to creep into the race.
Cliffs of Dover remains in top order at home, will love the good ground and looks fairly handicapped on his old form so I am expecting a big run.
Haydock 14:25 - Captain Cattistock should go close
I can't believe there are only eight runners for this £100,000 handicap but I'm not complaining. This has been his target since Chepstow six weeks ago where he needed the outing but still performed very well over two miles, three furlongs which is a bit sharp for him.
Even so he was bang in contention there two out before keeping on to finish sixth. Captain Cattistock has improved since then and this trip of three miles is much more suitable for him so I am expecting him to go close in this though I would prefer the ground to be softer for him.
Haydock 15:00 (Betfair Chase) - Lots of confidence in 'sparkling' Clan Des Obeaux
I've waited a year to run him in this Betfair Chase ever since he won a Graduation Chase so impressively on this card 12 months ago.
He had a great start to his campaign before a splint problem in the New Year put him on the sidelines. So it was a rush to get him to Aintree for the Grade 1 chase where he blew up two fences out before staying on to be a highly respectable third to Might Bite.
Clan Des Obeaux is twice the horse now and, being only six, surely has more improvement in him than the four who oppose him since they are all exposed while he has more to offer.
Although he is the outsider of the party I have lots of confidence in him because he is sparkling at home, schooling nicely and worked well at Wincanton.
Harry Cobden has been deliberating for several days before deciding to ride this horse and several others at Haydock here rather than go to Ascot for Politologue.
I am really excited about running Clan Des Obeaux.
Haydock 15:35 - Plenty of positives for Braqueur d'Or
Always needs his first run and duly took a big step forward from Cheltenham by winning comfortably at Taunton nine days ago where he was well on top at the line.
There are plenty of positives in this race for Braqueur d'Or who stays well, appreciates good ground and has useful form on flat tracks.
He is fit and firing, in rude health and is only 4lbs higher for his victory at Taunton where he cantered round against two opponents and had anything but a hard race. When they are in form you have to try to take advantage as we know he doesn't enjoy winter ground.
Ascot 12:20 - Trevelyn's Corn will improve for the run
An expensive purchase from Ireland after winning his maiden point-to-point in December for Colin Bowe, he was the only newcomer in all four maiden races to succeed that day. Trevelyn's Corn is a lovely big horse who took time to come to himself after arriving at Ditcheat.
He is coming together now and while ready for a run he is bound to improve enormously for the experience. As I see him as a staying chaser for the future I felt running him in a bumper would not play to his strengths.
Ascot 14:05 - Politologue my best chance of the day
We have quite a few fancied runners on Saturday and - if you put a gun to my head - I'd say that Politologue has the best chance.
He has been a fine flag-bearer for the yard at a time when we have been short of Grade 1 horses and did us proud last season, landing the Tingle Creek at Sandown before ending the campaign by beating Min in the Melling Chase at Aintree when stepped up in trip.
I've had this race in mind for him for a while and with Harry Cobden at Haydock it's good to have Sam Twiston Davies re-United with Politologue who is fit and enjoyed himself during a nice gallop round Wincanton last week. He goes well fresh, has form at Ascot and I couldn't be happier with him.
Ascot 14:40 - Old Guard looks amazing
We are striking while the iron is hot with Old Guard who ran another cracker in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday under top weight, staying on stoutly on the hill to be third.
He thrives on racing and looking at him you wouldn't know he'd had a race. He is fit as a flea, loves the present good ground and this trip of two miles, three and a half furlongs will be more to his liking.
There is no point in saving him for races in mid winter because he will be having a nice little break when the ground goes against him. Old Guard has had an easy week since Cheltenham and looks amazing.
Ascot 15:15 - San Benedeto has earned a shot at this
He is one of mine who could do with a bit of help from the handicapper after a series of solid runs in top company that have left him on a mark of 152.
He put in another fine effort to finish third in the Haldon Gold Cup early this month where Bryony Frost again got a good tune out of him.
San Benedeto is so hard to place but he has earned a shot at this and will run his usual honest race. He wouldn't mind a drop of rain to ease conditions.
Ascot 15:15 - Modus can continue to progress
I've had this valuable race in mind for him ever since he beat Duke of Navan in a tight finish at Cheltenham four weeks ago. He was galloping on strongly at the finish that day in a manner which suggests this stiff track will suit him well over this trip. He will also enjoy the nice ground at Ascot as he struggles when the mud is flying.
Modus developed into a smart novice last season, is pleasing us at home, and I'm hopeful he can continue his progress here.
Ascot 15:15 - Hoping for rain for Cyrname
I am hoping for some rain at Ascot for Cyrname who handles soft ground so well and we know he stays further than this trip. Cyrname is so free at home he never gallops with other horses. All he does is canter up the hill, twice some mornings and three times on other mornings.
So it is possible that he might just have needed his first run if the season at Carlisle which is not something you can say about many of mine. He still ran a solid race there keeping on to finish third behind Mister Whitaker and a fast pace at this right handed track will play to his strengths.