Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls gives his verdict on his runners at Aintree and Wincanton including Badger Ales Trophy Chase favourite Present Man...
"Can handle some cut in the ground but I would be worried about him getting the trip if they get all the rain that is forecast. I was praying for a dry week for Present Man but it looks as though my prayers have not been answered."
A big, scopey sort who is going to make a decent chaser one day. He comes from the family of Morley Street and Granville Again and we bought him for John Hales after he won his Point-to-point in Ireland run in seriously testing conditions in March. He jumped well that day, showing an excellent attitude. The Dellercheckout came in a little later than most of ours but he is going the right way and is now ready to start over hurdles. He is not fully wound up at this stage and like all of mine first time will improve for the run.
A big, imposing half-brother to the smart Le Prezien he is a lovely long term prospect who began the season in style with a comfortable first success in the bumper at Chepstow four weeks ago despite racing a bit keenly. It was always the intention to go hurdling after that as his schooling at home has gone well from the start. I like Mont Des Avaloirs who can only get better with experience. Leading chance.
Shaped last season as though he would improve for going over fences and got off the mark at the first attempt at Exeter a month ago where he raced lazily and finished tired after putting his seal on the race. Three miles seems to suit him well and I am hoping the cheek pieces he was worn in the last over hurdles will sharpen him up. Fair chance.
Was progressive towards the end of last season once we upped him in trip and ended the season winning over three miles at Ayr's Scottish National meeting. I think he has come on for his seasonal debut at Newton Abbot almost a month ago and trip and ground should be ideal for him at Aintree. Winningtry has few miles on the clock and I'm hopeful of a good run here before he most likely switches to fences.
Bought by Ditcheat Thoroughbreds last year with chasing in mind and that is what she will probably be doing after this first run of the campaign. Although Jessber's Dream ran some good races for us last winter I don't think we saw her at her best.
So we arranged to have her palate re-cauterised in the summer to help her breathing and are hoping she can start to make up for lost time. The more it rains at Wincanton the better for Jessber's Dream who is handicapped to the limit so it's a bonus that Bryony Frost's claim takes five pounds off her back.
He ended up with a rating of 143 last season after two impressive displays of jumping and galloping at Newbury with the help of brilliant rides from Sean Bowen who maintains the partnership here.
Warriors Tale is a smart horse on his day and should have another decent prize in him given the right conditions. He is best fresh and as he is suited by a flat track so after but while I am hopeful of a good first run of the season it only fair to point out that he has let us down on occasions when he has raced at some of the courses in the North that are furthest from Ditcheat.
It may just be that he is a bad traveller so instead of sending him overnight which we have done in the last we hope that he will prefer heading off to Aintree first thing in the morning.
Is one of my five to follow this season and made a winning debut over fences eleven days ago against two opponents. I've always thought Modus would be an exciting recruit to chasing and with any luck he has a big season ahead of him.
Having won the Lanzarote Hurdle and finished second in the Greatwood we know he has the class and his schooling has always encouraged us to think he will do even better as a chaser. Modus had a nice pop over our fences this morning and this race looks an ideal next step for him to gain more experience.
Fell at the last flight in this a year ago when set to finish second on much faster ground than he will encounter this time. Zubayr was unlucky to be pipped on the post in the Scottish Champion Hurdle in April and has since been running very well on the flat this summer.
He seemed to cope fine with soft ground on his most recent start at Haydock three months ago, tends to run well fresh and looks to have a leading chance in a tight handicap. Two miles on soft ground on this easy track should be just up his street.
We've enjoyed plenty of success in this valuable race at our local track and Southfield Theatre was poised to win it twelve months ago until he came down at the last fence. He was then hit by a seven pound hike to a mark of 152 for not winning which was really harsh! While he is not the easiest to train and has had one or two issues since then he is fine now and enjoyed a racecourse gallop ten days ago. Even so I suspect Southfield Theatre is up against it here racing off a career high mark.
Won nicely at the last meeting at here, handled very soft ground when winning at the track on Boxing Day and deserves to take his chance in a really competitive handicap. Mr Mix continues in fine form at home, is progressing well, is a thorough stayer which you need for this race and there could be more to come from him.
Can handle some cut in the ground but I would be worried about him getting the trip if they get all the rain that is forecast. I was praying for a dry week for Present Man but it looks as though my prayers have not been answered.
But he definitely runs as he is jointly owned by Mark Woodhouse who is chairman of the brewers who sponsor the race. It would mean the world to Mark and his family for their horse to win the race that Hall & Woodhouse have supported for so many years.
Present Man is a gorgeous horse who did brilliantly for us last season, needs to go right handed and enjoyed a winning return to hurdles at Kempton recently ridden by Bryony Frost who is on him again here.
A nice young four year old by Presenting, he is still a bit weak and backward and will improve a fair bit for the experience. I might pull him out if the ground gets really testing.