Paul Nicholls: Exclusive views on my nine runners at the jumps finale at Sandown
It's the final day of another enthralling jumps season on Saturday and Paul Nicholls is here with the verdict on his nine runners at Sandown...
"He would have finished a lot closer but for a mistake at the second last that day and I’d like to think he has a big chance in this off a mark of 137."
Sandown 13:50 - Mont Des Avaloirs has a big chance
Mont Des Avaloirs is a lovely horse who qualified for this last time at Market Rasen. His form when third in the Tolworth at this course in January looks gilt-edged now following the subsequent exploits of the winner Summerville Boy and Kalashnikov. He would have finished a lot closer but for a mistake at the second last that day and I'd like to think he has a big chance in this off a mark of 137.
Act of Valour is one of our better four-year-olds, he is tough and consistent and won a qualifier at Fakenham in workmanlike fashion. He wouldn't want too much more rain at Sandown.
Sandown 14:25 - Expecting a tidy run from Art Mauresque
Art Mauresque has twice run really well at Kempton this spring, chasing home Waiting Patiently over two and a half miles, then most recently coming a creditable fourth in the Betdaq Handicap Chase when he didn't quite get home over three miles.
I was looking for a decent show from him in the Topham at Aintree until pulling him out after all the rain came on the Friday morning. Trip and ground should be OK this time for Art Mauresque who should run tidily.
Alcala was in sparkling form in the summer, winning five times in succession before unluckily slipping up in front on the bend at Chepstow when serving it up to Finian's Oscar.
He's had a nice winter break at his owner's for a spell and is now fresh and ready to go again over the next few months. Alcala is another who wouldn't want it too soft at Sandown
Sandown 15:00 - Facing Altior will be great for my pair
I've always thought the world of Diego Du Charmil and was over the moon with the way he won his first Grade 1 at Aintree a fortnight ago. Taking on the reigning champion two-mile chaser Altior at level weights is obviously a huge ask for a novice but Diego Du Charmil has been in great form since Aintree, he jumps really well and, win or lose, he should benefit from the experience.
San Benedeto has found life a lot tougher this season after a purple patch the previous campaign when he won six times over fences as a novice. While this is another demanding task for San Benedeto he is fresh and well after a break and deserves his chance as he was placed in this 12 months ago.
Sandown 15:35 - Hoping rains stays away for Present Man
Hit the headlines in November when winning the Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton in gutsy style with the help of a tremendous positive ride from Bryony Frost.
I was worried about soft ground for him that day but he jumped for fun and wasn't for passing when hard pressed by Final Nudge in the closing stages. Present Man is best right-handed and I've been waiting for better ground for him. So I hope it doesn't rain too much for him because he has still to prove he stays this far.
Sandown 16:05 - Old Guard will like the trip
Has enjoyed a fruitful season, winning three times including a valuable Grade 2 Hurdle at Fontwell in February but he found three miles stretching his stamina last time on deep ground in the Grade 1 Hurdle at Aintree.
Old Guard is more of a Grade 2 horse and this shorter trip is more suitable so he will take run unless the going turns really soft at Sandown. While I am conscious this horse has had quite a busy campaign, Harry Cobden said he felt fine on Friday morning
Sandown 17:15 - Zubayr has an each-way chance if the going is good
Another of mine who found conditions turning against him at Aintree after all the rain. He hated the ground there and I will be withdrawing him if they have plenty of rain at Sandown.
Zubayr is totally ground dependent and if the going is genuinely good then he would have a decent each-way shout ridden by my amateur Lorcan Williams. Lorcan is in with a shout for the amateur's championship which ends in a month's time.
Paul's Best Chance: Mont Des Avaloirs looks to be on a decent mark and can handle any ground