Paul Nicholls Saturday Runners Preview: Highland Hunter should run well in Midlands National

Paul Nicholls
Can Paul lift another big Saturday prize?

There's no rest for Paul Nicholls and his team who head to Kempton and Uttoxeter on another busy Saturday of racing...

My Kempton runners...

Conditions in Flic's favour

13:30 - Flic Ou Voyou

He rattled up a hat-trick on decent ground earlier in the season and hasn't been quite so effective on winter ground. He will be much happier with conditions at Kempton but he does have three penalties so it's a bonus that his jockey Angus Cheleda can take 7lbs off. Flic Ou Voyou isn't fully wound up and needs to finish in the first four in this to qualify for the novice handicap final on the last day of the season at Sandown.

Positive about Diese Des Bieffes

14:40 - Diese Des Bieffes

He had 18 months on the sidelines before running twice over fences this season. He probably needed both those starts, is straight now and will appreciate the good ground at Kempton. The trip looks fine for Diese Des Bieffes and Angus Cheleda's 7lbs claim comes in handy.

Switch Hitter ready for race that has been 'the plan'

14:40 - Switch Hitter

This race has been the plan for a while for Switch Hitter who was balloted out at Cheltenham earlier in the week and won nicely at this track in November. He is another of mine who will enjoy the drying ground at Kempton.

My Way has sound claims

15:15 - My Way

He finally came good over fences three weeks ago with a fluent success from the front at this course. We are retaining the blinkers he wore that day and though he is now 9lbs higher he is a straight forward horse and should be competitive again. My Way is a great jumper of a fence and doesn't have to lead so if someone else wants to go a gallop then Bryony Frost will be happy to follow. Sound claims.

Jeremy Pass has leading claims

15:50 - Jeremy Pass

I thought he had a decent each-way chance in the EBF final at Sandown a week ago but pulled him out once the ground became attritional. He's a decent prospect who ran tidily when a close third at Doncaster after a little break and would just have needed that outing. Back at a flat track on good ground Jeremy Pass has leading claims.

My three at Uttoxeter...

Going left will suit Rockadenn

15:00 - Rockadenn

He surprised us a fraction when he kept on well to beat his stablemate Pic d'Orhy at Taunton recently despite giving Bryony Frost a hard time by lugging left-handed for much of the race. That form is decent and the first thing Bryony said when she came back in was to make sure we ran him left-handed next time. Rockadenn should be fine with a running rail on his inside at Uttoxeter and the step up in trip is in his favour.

Truckers Lodge comes here fresh

15:35 - Truckers Lodge

He hacked up in this race a year ago by 18 lengths in heavy ground off a mark of 141 and is still paying for the handicapper's decision to raise him 15lbs for that victory. So life has been harder for Truckers Lodge this season though he ran well for a long way in the Welsh National. While he has it all to do at the weights we've kept him fresh, we know he gets the trip and he is tough and genuine.

Lots of racing but should go well

15:35 - Highland Hunter

Although I've had this race in mind for him a while the wet weather and cancelled race meetings have meant it was a rush to give him the three runs over fences he needed to qualify. That is why he was out again so quickly at Exeter only a week after he won at Carlisle. That was not ideal as I'd have liked him to have more time between those races. But he seems A1 at home and I expect him to run very well over a trip that should play to his strengths.

Best chance. Jeremy Pass. He can justify the decision to by-pass Sandown last weekend and wait for more suitable conditions at Kempton.

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