Paul Nicholls: Politologue heads to Sandown in top form for 'biggest test of his life'

Does Paul Nicholls see his horses winning on Saturday afternoon?
Does Paul Nicholls see his horses winning on Saturday afternoon?
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On a chilly Saturday afternoon, Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls has 13 runners in action across the meetings at Aintree, Chepstow and at Sandown, where Politologue is his main chance in the Tingle Creek...

"I've won the Tingle Creek nine times over the years and Politologue goes to Sandown in top form. He took to fences brilliantly last season, is progressive and two miles looks to be his ideal trip so there are plenty of positives even though we know he will need to improve again to win this."

Aintree, 11:55 - Mont Des Avaloirs

He is a winner without a penalty as he was clear with the race in the bag when he overjumped and was unlucky to come down at the last flight at Wincanton. Although he was a bit keen through the race, the way he travelled and jumped until then was really encouraging.

Mont Des Avaloirs was fine afterwards, has schooled well since and should put up a good show here.

Sandown, 12:05 - Get Out The Gate

He is a nice prospect who made a striking winning debut in a maiden point-to-point at Dawstown in Ireland.

He put in a fine round of jumping that day and seems blessed with a sound temperament for such a young horse. While I do like Get Out The Gate I'd say he is bound to improve for the experience.

Chepstow, 12:30 - Bill And Barn

Won two soft ground point-to-points in the 2015-16 season before needing time off and has been a bit slow slow to come to hand this season over hurdles though he ran well to a point at Newbury eight days ago.

Bill and Barn is learning as he gains experience. He jumps well and is likely to be going chasing sooner rather than later.

13:10, Sandown - Connetable

Has become a bit disappointing but I haven't given up on him by any means and I am hoping he can a bit more competitive now that the handicapper has dropped him a couple of pounds.

Connetable is down to a mark of 130. He has won at Sandown in the past and the rain we had in midweek should have helped, too.

13:30, Aintree - As De Mee

Took to the National fences brilliantly at this meeting a year ago when landing the Grand Sefton Chase in tremendous style.

I entered him for the same race again but have opted for this longer Becher Chase as he stayed on steadily in winning over three and a quarter miles at Kelso late in October. More recently he ran as well as could be expected in finishing fourth behind Might Bite at Kempton.

A big run from As De Mee back over these fences will seal his entry in the Grand National next April.

13:45, Sandown - Capitaine

Has won his only starts over fences and was awesome last time at Market Rasen when he blew the opposition away with a brilliant round of jumping. It is fair to say that while I was expecting a big run from him there I wouldn't have dared to believe he'd win in such a grand manner.

Capitaine was due to run at the last Cheltenham meeting until I pulled him out after the ground turned testing. He is a really good horse, already rated 152, will enjoy going right handed and I am expecting another bold show from him.

14:05, Aintree - Malaya

Is a very smart juvenile filly we bought from France in the summer. She needed her first run for us when second behind Gumball at Chepstow and I wasn't at all surprised to see her take a big step forward next time with a decisive success at Wetherby where her jumping wasn't always as fluent as I would have liked.

Malaya has dons plenty of schooling since then and comes here in very good form. Outstanding chance.

14:20, Sandown - Zubayr

Found conditions turning against him last time in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton when the rain kept falling. It wasn't a surprise that he didn't get home that day, given the conditions, and we will see what the ground is like at Sandown before letting him take his chance.

Zubayr did well on the flat over the summer, has plenty of pace and definitely doesn't want a slog in the mud.

As he has plenty of weight to carry the 7l claim of our talented amateur Lorcan Williams will be a help.

Chepstow, 14:45 - Binge Drinker

In some ways he is our most interesting runner of the day as on his first start over fences last November he beat Might Bite, no less, at Ffos Las.

Binge Drinker suffered a tendon injury before joining me in the spring at the same time as Braqueur d'0r. We then turned him out to grass until August 1.

The plan has been to aim Binge Drinker at this trial ahead of his main early target the Coral Welsh National and it helps that he loves soft ground and has done plenty of work.

He has some high-class form in the book over hurdles and as he is set to carry top weight at Chepstow it makes sense for Bryony Frost to claim a handy 5lbs.

I am hopeful rather than confident and expect Binge Drinker to come on a fair bit for the run.

Sandown, 14:55 - Politologue

Won the Haldon Gold Cup in great style a month ago at Exeter on his return to action despite not being fully wound up as he came back into training later than the rest of our team.

It was a terrific performance in the circumstances but even with Douvan an absentee at Sandown this is without doubt the biggest test of his life.

I've won the Tingle Creek nine times over the years and Politologue goes to Sandown in top form. He took to fences brilliantly last season, is progressive and two miles looks to be his ideal trip so there are plenty of positives even though we know he will need to improve again to win this.

Sandown, 14:55 - San Benedeto

I wasn't planning to run him in the Tingle Creek as I was looking to send him instead to Huntingdon on Sunday for the Peterborough Chase. But I changed my mind once the Tingle Creek was re-opened at 10am on Thursday when only four horses were declared.

With such a small field of runners and serious prize money on offer it made sense to switch San Benedeto to Sandown.

He was a star for us last season, winning six times, and then put up a career best in finishing second behind Politologue at Exeter. He also ran well at Ascot last time and should be in the money again here.

Aintree, 15:10 - Sametegal

I was thrilled with his comeback run at Wetherby where he finished second in a decent handicap after a long break with a tendon injury.

Samtegal has a huge engine but is not the easiest to train because he has legs of glass.

He showed at Wetherby that the talent is still there and I've had this race in mind for him for a while. He should run very well.

Sandown, 15:30 - Southfield Theatre

Has had his share of setbacks down the years so I was delighted to see him return from his latest enforced break with an encouraging run into fourth place in the Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton recently won by Present Man.

Southfield Theatre found it hard to keep in touch because of the relentless pace that day but he stayed on well in first time cheek pieces in the final half mile.

He shapes these days as if he wants a trip and should be well suited by this thorough test over three miles, five furlongs ridden by Lorcan Williams.

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