Paul Nicholls: The verdict on my Saturday runners at Newbury and Newcastle
It's Hennessy Gold Cup day at Newbury and Paul Nicholls has two horses running in the big race. Our man has plenty of others in action across the card and a couple at Newcastle too, so read on for his views...
"Proved a star for us when winning the Scottish Grand National at Ayr. I can see plenty of plus points for Vicente who goes well fresh, prefers going left handed, and is a strong stayer. The more the ground dries up, the better he will appreciate it."
12:55 - Ibis Du Rheu
Something has to take on Thistlecrack and this is a good starting point for Ibis Du Rheu who could earn good prize money for being placed. It was much the same at Kempton on Monday where, if I hadn't run Black Corton, Altior would have enjoyed a walk over which is not good for racing.
Ibis Du Rheu schools nicely at home, has always shaped like a chaser and will benefit from this first run of the season as he's taken a long time to get fit.
13:30 - Warriors Tale
Was very unlucky not to win over fences off a mark of 135 at this meeting 12 months ago but did not produce that form again so gets in here on what could be a lenient mark off 130. He subsequently blew out on two trips North to Catterick and Carlisle and we couldn't find any physical reasons for that, so we now think it is a case of him being a bad traveller.
He is giving us the right signals at home so hopefully he can bounce back now racing much nearer to home.
14:05 - Favorito Buck's
A chaser in the making but like one or two who joined us from France last season he didn't live up to his lofty reputation. He does seems in good form at home after an op to help his breathing and has been crying out for a trip which he gets here.
Favorito Buck's is a beautiful horse who is ready to take a step forward if he can relax in his races.
14:40 - Tommy Silver
I was annoyed with myself for running him last time at Ffos Las when the ground turned bottomless but he needed the outing and will strip much fitter now. Tommy Silver is a tall, strong horse with a big engine as he showed when winning the Listed Triumph Hurdle Trial at Musselburgh in the spring. I expect him to run tidily.
15:10 - Saphir Du Rheu
A year ago I thought he was heading for the top over fences but he didn't quite last home when he was favourite for the Hennessy and was beaten 22 lengths. I can't deny that he has been disappointing since then but he showed signs of a revival at Ascot last time, keeping on well to be third in the Sodexo Gold Cup, and he is 10lbs lower than he was a year ago.
I was pleased with the way he went in a racecourse gallop last week and am very happy with his condition, as he has definitely come on for that run at Ascot. But I do appreciate that it is time for him to deliver.
15:10 - Vicente
Proved a star for us when winning the Scottish Grand National at Ayr and I am already looking forward to the day I take him to Aintree, although as he is still only seven it is not certain to be this season. I can see plenty of plus points for Vicente who should continue to progress, goes well fresh, prefers going left handed, and is a strong stayer. The more the ground dries up, the better he will appreciate it.
15:45 - Ulck Du Lin
Is rather in the grip of the handicapper after paying the price for two excellent successes the season before last. He is a fun horse who ran some solid races in defeat last winter but tended to sulk last time when they went too fast for his liking at Ascot.
14:55 - Irving
Was as brilliant and frustrating as ever last season, looking better than ever when winning two big pots early on before going off the boil. He has never been the easiest to train and has taken a little bit longer than usual to come to hand this season.
While I have to handle him with care at home, he has done plenty of work in different ways, goes well fresh and returns to the scene of his triumph in this race two years ago.
15:30 - Virak
One of the most likeable horses in the yard and a pleasure to train, he doesn't know how to run a bad race and was second in this and the Peter Marsh Chase last year. Long term I am looking at the Grand National for Virak who was a creditable runner up at the Aintree festival.
I think he will go well here as he just needed the run in the Charlie Hall Chase a month ago and has definitely come on for it.
To read betting.betfair.com tipster Tony Calvin's Saturday Horse Racing Tips then please click on the link.