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Paul Nicholls: Exclusive thoughts on my 15 Saturday runners

Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls will saddle 15 runners on Saturday afternoon
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Paul Nicholls has 15 runners in action on Saturday afternoon and they're spread across the meetings at Bangor, Newbury and Newcastle. Here are his exclusive thoughts on their form and prospects...

"Present Man continues to progress, has a great racing weight and a bang in form jockey in a race which lacks any obvious stars so I looking for another bold show from him."

11:55, Newcastle - Act of Valour

Is a horse we bought privately in the autumn from Michael O'Callaghan's stable in Ireland where he showed bags of ability in a series of decent displays on the flat this year which earned a mark of 97.

While Act of Valour isn't the biggest he took to our schooling methods very quickly, clearly enjoys jumping his hurdles and looks a natural.

While we really like him and think he is one of our best juvenile prospects we don't know how he will cope with the ground conditions at Newcastle which are bound to be testing for three-year-olds. Even so we will be disappointed if he doesn't go close in this.


Bangor, 12:25 - Tommy Silver

I've always liked Tommy Silver and couldn't have been happier with the way he jumped and travelled at Leicester on his way to his first success over fences 12 days ago.

Ideally he might prefer slightly better ground than he is likely to find at Bangor but he is going the right way and hopefully can pick up a couple more races like this before moving into handicap company. Leading chance.


Newbury, 12:45 - Black Corton

Has amazed me by his relentless improvement since switching to fences. I've always felt you should keep a horse going when he is on a roll and this race is the next logical step after his latest fine victory at Cheltenham.

I was going to keep Black Corton back for the three mile novice chase at Kempton's Christmas meeting now named in honour of Kauto Star. But he is in such good form at home it makes sense to strike while the iron is hot with Hattie Heal, his rider, assuring me he has never felt better.

He is also very well suited by the race conditions as he has to give only 3lbs to less experienced rivals.


Newbury, 13:20 - Warrior's Tale and Bouvreuil

Warrior's Tale unseated Sean Bowen early on at Aintree last time with a rare jumping error. He is usually accurate at his fences and has plenty going for him at a track where he excelled last season.

We have learned that he doesn't enjoy travelling long distances to race meetings far from home so the short trip from Ditcheat to Newbury is in favour of a smart horse who I feel has more to offer.

He looks a solid each way chance with Bryony Frost taking a handy 5lbs off his back.

I was a bit disappointed with Bouvreuil last time at Cheltenham where he shaped as if he would appreciate a step up in trip which he gets here.

I am also leaving off the hood which he has worn for a while in his races as I don't think there is any need for him to wear it now.

Racing fans will be interested to see his jockey Harry Cobden wearing the yellow and black colours which Sir Peter O'Sullevan left to his great friend JP McManus in his will. So it would be brilliant if Bouvreuil could carry these silks to victory in this race which is named in honour of the late, great commentator.


Newbury, 13:50 - Old Guard

Continued his revival this season with a cracking run into third place, keeping on well in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham recently.

A few weeks earlier he had shown the benefit of a wind op in the summer with a spring-heeled display of jumping on his way to a stylish victory in a Listed Hurdle at Kempton.

With Old Guard continuing to give the right signals at home I am hopeful that he will be in the shake up again with this longer trip playing to his strengths.


14:10, Newcastle - Irving

Has been a fantastic trooper for the yard over the years and is seeking his third success in this famous old Grade 1 Hurdle at Newcastle.

Yet for all his considerable achievements he has never been straightforward, mainly because of problems with his feet, and he has become trickier to train by the season to the point that a couple of times I felt we might have to pull stumps with him.

Yet Irving is still a classy horse, bounced back to win this prize 12 months ago and is in good form at home as he returns to Newcastle once more. He also always runs well fresh and schooled brilliantly over hurdles on the grass this week.

So there is plenty to look forward to although on all known form he cannot beat the reigning champion hurdler Buveur d'Air at level weights.


Bangor, 14:40 - The Dellercheckout

Is a lovely prospect who won his only point-to-point in Ireland on soft ground and definitely needed his first run for us when he was sixth at Aintree recently as he came back into training a few weeks later than most of our team.

It was much the same with a horse called Captain Cattistock who also needed his first outing for us before showing marked improvement next time when he hacked up at Wincanton.

So I am expecting a much better display from The Dellercheckout this time and have high hopes for him for the future. BIg chance.


Newbury, 14:25 - Amour de Nuit

Runs here in preference to the 13:50 as I am not convinced he needs to be stepping up to two and a half miles at this stage of his career.

I pulled him out of the Greatwood at Cheltenham because he would not have enjoyed the testing ground there and he comes here fresh and well.

The betting suggests that the bookies don't fancy Amour De Nuit too much in this Listed handicap but he continues to thrive, is progressive and I am expecting him to outrun his odds at this flat track that should suit him very well.


Newbury, 15:00 - Braqueur D'Or & Present Man

Braqueur D'Or has turned inside out since being sent to me in the spring with a modest rating of 109 and promptly got beaten on his first run for us. If someone had told me then he would be among the contenders for the Ladbroke Trophy I'd have said they were mad.

Yet here he is fully deserving his place in the line up with the bonus that he gets in here exactly on the 10 stone mark.

Having been raised 10lbs to a mark of 139 after routing a decent field in a handicap at Ludlow he was then third last time in a £60,000 Chase at Ascot where he found himself a bit further back than ideal once the tempo quickened.

The drier the ground at Newbury the better I expect Braqueur d'Or to run.

When Present Man won the Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton I was worried that he might not squeeze into this race at the foot of the weights.

As it turns out he has made the cut with a bit to spare and the drying conditions at the course are definitely in his favour in a seriously competitive renewal of this handicap which used to be known as the Hennessy Gold Cup.

Everyone saw at Wincanton that Bryony Frost has forged a great partnership with Present Man who jumped brilliantly for her and found plenty at the end to hold off a persistent challenger.

This horse continues to progress, has a great racing weight and a bang in form jockey in a race which lacks any obvious stars so I looking for another bold show from him.

In the past I've felt Present Man is better suited going right-handed but he jumped straight at Wincanton so I am hoping it will not be an issue at Newbury.


Newbury, 15:35 - Marracudja

Is finding life a fair bit tougher in his second season over fences and maybe might just need a helping hand from the handicapper.

But the bold jumping Marracudja is consistent, is settling better this season and I'd say a strongly run race over two miles on a flat track are ideal conditions for a horse who knows how to win.


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