Paul Nicholls: My Saturday runners at Ascot, Haydock and Taunton

Can Paul scoop any prizes this Saturday?
Can Paul scoop any prizes this Saturday?
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Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls has a mere five runners in action on Saturday afternoon but they're spread out across the country and our man provides fascinating insights into their chances...

"Irving is down in class, has been crying out for this step up in trip and goes well fresh so there are plenty of positives."

Ascot

15:35 - San Benedeto

Is reliable and consistent and always runs tidily in these types though I am not expecting him or any of the others to turn over Un De Sceaux at level weights. While he has it all to do against the odds-on favourite he should pick up some of the pieces in this Grade 1 Chase and the better the ground the better he will run.

Haydock

15:15 - Ptit Zig

Continues to find life tough racing off his handicap mark of 153 and is up against it again here giving weight all round in this marathon.

I thought he ran alright (to a point) at Ascot a month ago until he got tired, but he isn't quite as good as he was and hasn't won over fences since October 2015.

Ptit Zig was dropped 3lbs by the handicapper after Ascot and probably needs to drop another 10lbs to be competitive again and that's not going to happen while he is standing in his box at Ditcheat.

So he needs to run in races like this in the hope that he might end up on a more realistic mark.

Taunton

13:05 - Dan McGrue

Came good at this track last time after we dropped him down in trip to a more suitable two miles, three furlongs.

You'd think that as a three time point-to-point winner he would be bound to stay three miles over hurdles but he didn't last home and was weak at the finish when he tried him over three miles for the first time at Taunton hence the change in distance three weeks ago.

Dan McGrue picked up a 6lb penalty for winning that day so Bryony Frost's 5lb claim offsets nearly all of that.

14:15 - Irving

Has been a tremendous campaigner for us over the years but is increasingly tricky to train as he has legs of glass.

So I was thrilled with his latest comeback at Newcastle in November when he finished a close second to the reigning champion hurdler Buveur D'Air in the Fighting Fifth.

Giving lumps of weight all round here in this Senior's Handicap is a big ask but Bryony Frost takes off a valuable 5lbs and the softer the ground the better Irving will like it.

He's down in class, has been crying out for this step up in trip and goes well fresh so there are plenty of positives.

14:50 - Captain Buck's

Came tantalisingly close to victory wearing a first-time tongue tie in a slow motion three-way finish at Wincanton on Boxing Day.

He's been running to a consistent level, jumps and stays well, and should have a decent chance here against three opponents ridden by our ever improving amateur Lorcan Williams who is great value for his 7lb claim.


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