As well as having some solid claims at Haydock on Betfair Chase day Paul Nicholls also has some big chances at Ascot and Huntingdon on what could be a successful afternoon...
"He travelled and jumped like a smart horse at Cheltenham where the drop back to two miles seemed to suit him. This looks the right race for him."
- Paul Nicholls on Magic Saint
Can kick the day off with a winner
This is the last chance for Southfield Harvest to run in a novice hurdle. He is progressive, jumps, stays and has a good chance of getting us off to a winning start at Ascot. He is ready to go and will make a nice chaser in time.
Fit and has schooled nicely
The plan was to run Highland Hunter at Haydock in the Betfair Exchange Stayers' Handicap Hurdle but he has ended up as first reserve for that. He will still go to Haydock if something drops out. If not he will run in this three mile novice Chase at Ascot. He needed his first outing when he was second at Ayr recently, is fit now and has already schooled nicely over fences at home.
Trip is ideal for Steel while Corton can run another big race
While I am still learning about Real Steal I do think he could be a really interesting recruit after joining us this season from Willie Mullins. I thought he ran a cracker in the Cheltenham Gold Cup as he was bang there at the last fence before weakening up the hill. Though I haven't been hard on him he is fit and I've given him an entry in the King George.
This trip should be ideal for Real Steel who is better going right handed according to Ruby Walsh. I can't wait to see how he gets on.
Black Corton is a regular at Ascot and after a summer wind op he wasn't as ready as most of ours when fourth in a handicap at this track under top weight three weeks ago. I thought he ran very well in the circumstances and will improve for it. This trip of two miles, five furlongs will be fine for Black Corton who is so genuine and doesn't have to carry any penalties. Although he has a bit to find with a couple of these he is capable of running a big race. They will have to work very hard to get past him.
Looks amazing but she'll benefit from the run
She is a top class mare who was sent to us this summer. Laurina had issues with breaking blood vessels last season and this looks a perfect starting point as she doesn't have any penalties and with the mares allowance she gets weight from all her rivals. I've done a lot of hard, steady work with Laurina without galloping her too much and she looks amazing at the moment. While I wouldn't be surprised to see her go very well I'm sure she will benefit from the run.
Saint is in good form and this is the right race for him
Magic Saint was raised 7lbs for winning really well at Cheltenham a week ago and is in such good form at home that we are rolling the dice again with Bryan Carver claiming a handy 3lbs. He travelled and jumped like a smart horse at Cheltenham where the drop back to two miles seemed to suit him. This looks the right race for him.
Capeland won this race in style a year ago when it was worth £120,000 and it is a worrying sign of the times that it is now worth £95,000 less. He jumped a bit lazily before blundering out of the race quite early three weeks ago at this track but was fine afterwards. I am hoping cheek pieces first time might sharpen up Capeland's jumping. He does tend to show his best form in the first half of the season but I have a feeling his handicap mark is stiff enough.
Going the right way but is bound to improve for the run
He is a nice, scopey prospect by Kapgarde from the family of Politologue. He was a shade backward and needed a bit of time but is going the right way and has done everything at home that our winning bumper horses have done. As with all my store horses on their racecourse debuts he is bound to improve for the experience.
Hoping for a better show with cheekpieces added
He was a bit disappointing last time at Taunton and I don't know why. The more it rains at Huntingdon the more it will suit Friend Or Foe who has a bit to prove on his last run over hurdles before he goes chasing. I am fitting him with cheekpieces and hoping for a better show with his promising rider Natalie Parker taking off a handy 7lbs.
Trip looks just the ticket for relentless galloper
This race offers an early chance for compensation for Golden Gift who I felt was coming to win at Wincanton when he stumbled on landing at the last flight and unseated Bryony Frost. This long distance maiden hurdle over an extended three miles looks just the ticket for Golden Gift, a relentless galloper who will make a nice chaser in time.
*Best chance: Southfield Harvest 12.20 Ascot. His form is solid and he is pleasing at home.
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