Paul Nicholls: Views on all my runners on a big Saturday of racing

Paul Nicholls
It could be a big Saturday for Paul
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Paul Nicholls sends a big team out on Saturday with horses running at three tracks including Birds Of Prey on the flat in the November Handicap at Doncaster...

"This race has long been the target for El Bandit who I rate highly and I have a sneaking feeling he could be well-handicapped."

The verdict on my Wincanton runners

Wind Op works for Grand Sancy

12:40 - Grand Sancy

Loves good ground and has made the improvement I expected this season after a wind op to help his breathing. He was much too keen in his first campaign for us with the result that he wasn't finishing his races.

But he won very well on his return at Chepstow and then performed with credit in a Listed contest at Kempton last time when he wasn't suited by the slow pace of the race.

This NH novice hurdle looks an ideal chance for him to get back to winning ways though a 10lbs penalty makes life a bit harder for him.

Everything in Capeland's favour

13:15 - Capeland

Has been running consistently without quite getting his head in front and it is always a bonus to have a rider of Bryony Frost's quality on your side in a race for conditional jockeys.

Capeland was an excellent second in a decent race at Fontwell last time, has taken to chasing nicely this summer, jumps well, enjoys going right-handed and a flat track like Wincanton is just the ticket for him.

He should be bang there again provided he is not in the handicapper's grip.

This mare is ready for a big run

13:50 - If You Say Run

A lovely mare who won at this track last season during a rewarding campaign which saw her finish in the first two every time until her last run when she was found out by the soft ground in a Grade 2 Hurdle at the end of March after a busy time.

She is another of mine who prefers good ground and we now have to decide whether to keep her to hurdles this winter or switch her to fences.

This race will tell us which way to go with If I Say Run and I am looking for a big run from her. She's ready.

Positive about Secret Investor ahead of fence debut

14:25 - Secret Investor

In an ideal world I like running horses in this that have already had a race over fences at somewhere like Chepstow. But instead of that Secret Investor won the Persian War Hurdle at Chepstow in style with a bit in hand.

That was his first outing since a wind operation to assist his breathing. He has now won on his last three starts but I've always seen him as a chaser and I am very much looking forward to his debut over fences here.

The ground should be fine for him after all the rain over the past few days, his schooling has been consistently good, he has already won a point-to-point and he worked great on Thursday morning. So he has plenty in his favour.

Present man in good order ahead of double attempt

15:35 - Present Man

This is a race we always like to target and we've won it eight times including last year's stirring victory by Present Man who now goes for the double on a 2lb higher mark. He got a great, positive ride that day from Bryony Frost who is now close to losing her 3lbs claim.

Although it was soft a year ago Present Man prefers better ground and should get that here despite all the rain.

He arrived at Wincanton 12 months ago after a handy prep run at Kempton over hurdles which he won. But there was nothing suitable for him recently and he has done plenty of graft at home. If he is in the same form as in this in 2017 he is the one to beat.

Sneaky feeling about my Bandit

15:35 - El Bandit

Although he has had only one race over fences - and that came more than 500 days ago - he could be the joker in the pack. He was a very smart hurdler and was hugely impressive in winning on his debut over fences at Warwick in May 2017.

He then picked up a minor leg injury pre-season last year and we've given him plenty of time. He is now ready to rock and roll and while he obviously lacks experience his jumping has been sound in our outdoor school and he should be fine on the ground after all the rain.

This race has long been the target for El Bandit who I rate highly and I have a sneaking feeling he could be well-handicapped.

El Bandit 1280.jpg

Place chances for Buck's

15:35 - Captain Buck's

He is not without a chance either as he is always knocking on the door and is getting a fair bit of weight from most of the field.

Captain Buck's should have won here on Boxing Day last year and I felt Harry Cobden was a shade out of his ground on him last time at this course before they stayed on to be a close third to Aunty Ann.

I'd say he is on a good mark in this and if they go a decent gallop it wouldn't be a shock to see him finishing strongly to pick up some of the pieces.

Flic looks another fine four-year-old

16:10 - Flic Ou Voyou

Our group of four-year-olds have been on fire in recent weeks and this is another of them that I expect to take a big step forward from his only run in the spring when some of ours were not sparkling.

He made a noise at Fontwell when we fancied him and subsequently had a soft palate and hobday operation.

Flic Ou Voyou has improved no end for the time off and with our young horses flying at the moment I expect him to leave that form well behind.

Views on my three at Aintree

Warrior taking a look at Aintree fences

14:40 - Warrior's Tale

Is a victim of his own consistency as he remains on a tough handicap mark. He ended last season by running in the Grand National when like plenty of others he found conditions too testing. Even so he was going well in touch after a circuit until hampered at the Chair fence and was eventually pulled up before two out.

Warrior's Tale usually needs his first run and I suspect that will be the case again here before he returns to Aintree for another crack at the National fences.

Some nice positives for Romain

14:40 - Romain de Senam

He could be interesting in this with Lorcan Williams taking off a handy 5lbs as he is beginning to look reasonably well handicapped.

He ran with promise on his return at Market Rasen recently after a wind op, travelling nicely and looking a big threat at the second last before finishing a close fourth.

That should have put him spot-on for this race and he is better going left-handed. So he has a lot in his favour provided the ground doesn't get too testing.

Time for Tommy to show some enthusiasm

15:20 - Tommy Silver

He has become rather frustrating as I am sure he is better over fences than he has shown so far.

I am hoping this flat track should suit Tommy and he did run well for a long way last time at Cheltenham.

I did toy with the idea of trying him in blinkers before deciding against it. I've also removed the tongue strap and cheek pieces he wore on his last outing.

It is time for him to show his true colours as he has lost his way since the start of the year. He needs to show more enthusiasm for the job.

And my thoughts on Birds of Prey at Doncaster

My runner a decent each-way bet

15:15 - Birds Of Prey

I can't say I know the flat racing programme book that well but this end of season handicap has been his target since we gave him an op to cauterise his soft palate after he was beaten by a short head at Haydock in August.

We are hoping for plenty of rain at Doncaster for Birds Of Prey who has been running well on the flat this year and looks fairly handicapped off a mark of 92 with my daughter Megan claiming a useful 5 lbs.

We have trained him for this race knowing it wouldn't be soft enough for him to go hurdling yet and he did a decent piece of work at Kempton ten days ago.

The more it rains the better for Birds of Prey who looks an attractive each-way bet though the 20-1 early in the week soon disappeared.

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