Paul Nicholls: My Saturday runners at Doncaster, Kelso and Newbury
It's a relatively quiet Saturday as attention turns to Cheltenham, but Paul Nicholls still has nine runners out at Doncaster, Kelso and Newbury. Here's the Betfair Ambassador's verdict on their chances...
"Has improved in leaps and bounds this season and runs here in preference to the Coral Cup or Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival."
Hustle and bustle should suit
14:40 - Dolos
We have won the Greatwood eight times and we're running three this year, including Dolos who worked well on Thursday morning. He showed he was in top form with a solid victory over two miles at Sandown a month ago for which he has been raised 5lbs.
Some people were questioning his resolution until then but he was firmly on top at the finish. We always thought Dolos would get two-and-a-half miles but I suppose there is a little doubt until he does it.
Lorcan Williams, who claims a handy 5lbs, will not be in a hurry on Dolos who should be suited by the hustle and bustle of a big field and has a decent chance.
Cracking each-way chance
14:40 - San Benedeto
I've felt for a while that he is crying out for two-and-a-half miles on a flat track. It didn't work out in a Grade 2 Chase at Huntingdon three months ago when they went flat out but this is a much more realistic challenge now that he has been dropped 8lbs from the start of the season.
Although I see he is an outsider, after facing an impossible task against Cyrname last time, I expect him to run a big race and so does Harry Cobden who would have ridden him in this until we decided he should be at Kelso for Getaway Trump.
San Benedeto ran creditable races at Exeter and Ascot late last year, is full of life at home and his jockey Nick Scholfield has great faith in him, having won three times on him including a Grade 1 at Aintree. Cracking each way chance.
Ideal preparation for Aintree
14:40 - Warriors Tale
Has won twice over the course and distance but is up to a career high mark of 153 after his brilliant win at Aintree in December. This race could be the ideal prep for Warriors Tale before he goes back to Aintree, most likely in the Topham though he is also in the Grand National.
He was below par last time at Doncaster, which has happened the odd time in his career, but he seems fine at home, goes well at Newbury and is capable of being involved here.
Fit and well again
16:50 - McFabulous
Is one of a smart bunch of bumper horses coming through this season. He was so impressive in his debut for us at Chepstow in November and I've put a line through his following run when he wasn't himself at Cheltenham.
It happens sometimes with young horses. I've given McFabulous a break since, freshened him up and expect him to run a tidy race now that he is fit and well again. This will be his last run before he goes hurdling next season.
Will benefit from experience
13:40 - Oleg
Joined us from France early in the New Year shortly after finishing second over hurdles at Pau. So I am still learning about Oleg who has been schooling well over hurdles at Ditcheat and is ready for a run.
I am not quite sure what to expect from him at Kelso and imagine he will come on plenty for the experience.
Big chance for big prize
14:45 - Black Corton
Was an amazing flag bearer for us last season, winning eight times over fences in his novice season, so we knew he would find life much tougher this winter. While he has not managed to get his head in front he's been running to a high standard and again excelled when second to Calipto a fortnight ago at Ascot where he gave the winner 12lbs.
Black Corton loves his job, worked with great enthusiasm on Thursday morning and gets on famously with his rider Bryony Frost. They have a big chance of landing this big prize.
My best chance of Saturday
15:15 - Getaway Trump
Has improved in leaps and bounds this season and runs here in preference to the Coral Cup or Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Then we can take him to Aintree.
I think it is the right decision at this stage of Getaway Trump's career. I've no doubt he is a very good horse and his form confirms it. He hacked up at Exeter before giving Champ a fright in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle over two-and-a-half miles and he was a hot favourite for the Ballymore.
Getaway Trump then ran a decent fourth in the Betfair Hurdle at Ascot where they didn't go quick enough for him and he wasn't helped by coming from well off the pace. He stayed on all the way to the line and will definitely appreciate the longer trip at Kelso. First rate chance.
Capable of bouncing back
14:25 - Copain De Classe
Has been disappointing on his last two starts, fading in the closing stages at Wincanton over two-and-a-half miles, and then coming up short at Sandown where he was sixth behind Dolos a month ago back at two miles.
He probably found the soft going against him that day and will be more at home on the quicker ground at Doncaster. While I can't be too confident about Copain De Classe he is well capable of bouncing back at a big, galloping track that should play to his strengths.
Classy and consistent
15:00 - Danse Idol
I've been wanting to try Danse Idol over three miles and get the chance in this Listed Mares Hurdle. She has had to give best to the very smart Queenohearts on her last two starts so I was pleased to see her name was not among the entries for this.
Classy and consistent, Danse Idol ran very well last time, 15 days ago at Sandown, and I do worry a little that she had a hard race in testing conditions. But she is in great form at home and as the winner of a point to point she should relish stepping up to three miles. Favourite's chance.
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