Paul Nicholls: The verdict on my Saturday runners at Kempton, Newcastle and Chepstow
After his magnificent eight-timer last week, Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls has another successful Saturday in his sights as he sends runners to Kempton, Newcastle and Chepstow...
"Best chance. Secret Investor 13:50 Kempton. Very much going the right way over fences, will love the ground and has bright prospects of beating Bags Groove this time in receipt of 5lbs."
Good ground set to suit
13:15 - Rhythm Is A Dancer
He was busy early in the season, winning three times early before I turned him out a bit quicker than ideal on Boxing Day at Wincanton where he didn't perform to his best. He is fresh and well again after a nice little mid-winter break, has been dropped 3lbs and the goodish ground at Kempton is just up his street.
Fancied to turn the tables of Bags Groove
13:50 - Secret Investor
He won the Persian War Hurdle in great style at Chepstow in October before I rather threw him in at the deep end on his first start over fences in the Rising Stars Chase at Wincanton against the more experienced Bags Groove. He did well to finish a clear second to that horse and then ran a cracker against OK Corral at Warwick, jumping smartly and looking a big danger until tiring late on over three miles. Dropping back half a mile on this flat track should be perfect for Secret Investor in the Pendil, a race I've won no end of times, including three of the last four years. He has a live chance now getting 5lbs from Bags Groove.
A trio of chances but Ecco could be Triumph Hurdle bound
14:25 - Ecco, Red Force One, Deadline Diva
Ecco is a lovely big horse who won on the flat in Germany before finishing in the rear in the German Derby at Hamburg. He took a while to get over being gelded after joining us and is definitely one for the future. He is going forward now and worked nicely at Wincanton on Monday. If he goes and wins this then he could go straight to the Triumph Hurdle. If not then we will probably keep him for next season.
I do fancy Red Force One who had a nice tune up for this on the all weather at Kempton just over a fortnight ago and got beaten a nose after rallying strongly in the closing stages. He would have probably have won if we had made more use of him but we were still learning about him and know a bit more now. Red Force One was rated 89 on the flat, has schooled well and is an exciting recruit to hurdles.
A winner on the flat at Bordeaux Le Bouscat in September, Deadline Diva hadn't acclimatised when we ran her at this track at Christmas when she was too keen for her own good before taking a tired fall at the final flight. She wants good ground and needs some experience over hurdles to help her settle and relax. Then she will be fine.
In top form and deserve his chance at this level
15:00 - Southfield Stone
Has progressed impressively this season, notching up a hat trick at Taunton before running with great credit in finishing a close third behind Elixir de Nutz and Grand Sancy in the Tolworth Hurdle on ground that was softer than he liked. That form looks even better now following the victory of Grand Sancy in the Kingwell Hurdle. Southfield Stone was then up against it with two penalties against the useful Bold Plan at Taunton. He remains in top form at home and more than deserves a crack at this Grade 2 Hurdle.
Three cracking chances
15:35 - Adrien Du Pont, Modus, Romain de Senam
This has been the plan for Adrien Du Pont since he won impressively over course and distance late in December with the help of a patient ride from Harry Cobden. The time before he had raced too keenly behind the leaders at Newbury. While he has gone up 7lbs for his latest win, he's in great form at home and we know he is suited by the track and trip. He will again be dropped out and played late. Good chance.
Modus is an interesting contender as he is unbeaten in two starts at Kempton and I've felt for some time that he is ready for this step up to three miles. Running him over two miles last time at Doncaster will have sharpened him up and he was keeping on steadily at the finish. I'd like to think Modus has a fair bit going for him here racing on good ground over a trip he now needs. He certainly wasn't stopping when he won easily over two and a half miles at this track a year ago.
Romain de Senam put a couple of indifferent displays behind him with a fluent success early in January under top weight at Taunton where he was well on top at the end. He stays three miles, has a handy racing weight and will enjoy racing on good ground on a flat track. All three of mine in this are contenders and it wouldn't surprise me to see Romain de Senam picking up the pieces late on.
Good chance in closing bumper
16:45 - Enrilo
He won a bumper in style at Worcester on good ground in the autumn before running very well in finishing fourth in a Listed race at Ascot just before Christmas. Enrilo is a nice horse who carries a penalty here on what is likely to be his last outing before he goes hurdling next season. I expect him to be in the shake up.
Really happy but Scottish National remains the main target
14:40 - Vicente
The more it dries at Newcastle before the Eider the better for Vicente who is a legend for us having won the Scottish Grand National in consecutive years. He jumps, he stays and is always at his peak in the spring. In a normal winter I wouldn't dream of running Vicente in the Eider as the ground is usually bottomless but not this time. I was well pleased with his run at Taunton recently when he was bang there turning for home before keeping on to finish third. His long term aim all season is a third victory in the Scottish National.
Will come on for the run
13:55 - Choix Des Armes
Has been off since finishing second to Eskendash at Kempton in May. He had a busy spring before that and has needed a bit of time to come to himself so I expect him to need this run. We will see how he goes here before turning his attention to fences.
Patience the key
14:30 - Nineohtwooneoh
Showed his inexperience when finishing eighth to the smart mare Elusive Belle on his racecourse debut at Wincanton just over five weeks ago and is still very backward. He is one of those horses who will benefit from time and patience as he learns how to race.
Kapcorse the best of my pair
15:40 - El Bandit, Kapcorse
El Bandit hasn't really fired over fences in two starts this season after a long break with an injury following a highly encouraging winning debut over fences at Warwick in May 2016. Life has not been easy for El Bandit as he lacked experience over fences and has had to run off quite a lofty mark in handicaps. We are changing things in the hope that he can bounce back over hurdles. If that doesn't work then we might try him in hunter chases next season.
Kapcorse has been progressive this winter, winning the Sir Peter O'Sullevan Novice Chase at Newbury early in December before another success in a novice hurdle last time. Bryony Frost gets a great tune out of this horse, having won three out of three on him. They look to have a good chance in this competitive qualifier though long term I see his future over fences.
Ready to run
16:15 - Capeland
Has been very consistent this season and again ran really well under a big weight last time when a close second to Darebin at Sandown seven weeks ago, giving the winner 21lbs. He then had a short break to allow us to re-cauterise his palate as we felt he was struggling ever so slightly with his breathing. It wasn't a major procedure and he is fine now, ready to run in this which should put him spot in for the Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival.
Has benefited a lot from experience
17:20 - Golden Gift
Is a nice prospect for the future who ran with a lot of promise when second on his racecourse debut at Wincanton early in January after making much of the running. He was extremely green that day in front but will have learned plenty and has come on a lot for the experience. I am hoping he will put the benefit of that run to good use in this.
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