Paul Nicholls has four runners at Ascot on Friday, including a talented young chaser and two very exciting bumper horses in the National Hunt Flat Race...
"Stage Star is a very nice prospect, looks to have improved since then and has plenty in his favour."
Handicap mark about right so has a chance in this handicap
He had a fair bit of time off being winning a novice hurdle nicely on his comeback at Wincanton where he made the running a month ago. While it wasn't the strongest of races his opening mark of 124 looks about right. I'd like to think Zyon has a chance in this handicap on ground that should suit.
Getting there over fences and expecting an improved run
It was frustrating to see him fall late on at Ascot last time because he had jumped brilliantly until then and was bang there going well when it happened. I'm hoping he has learned from it and he has done plenty of schooling in the last few weeks. For all his talent from day one Pic d'Orhy has never been a natural over fences so I always knew it would take him time to get the hang of things. He is getting there now and with slower ground in his favour I'm looking for an improved showing from him.
Two very promising horses but we know Star will go on the ground
I run two in this with my daughter Megan riding Knappers Hill as Harry Cobden just prefers Stage Star because he has already won on very soft ground. Though on their homework you couldn't split the pair. We think a bit of Knappers Hill who won in style on his racecourse debut on much faster ground at Chepstow in October and has thrived since then. It's just that we don't know if he will handle the going at Ascot.
Stage Star was impressive in what looked a decent bumper late in October at Chepstow where he was strong at the finish and the runner up Aviewtosea franked the form when he won next time at Carlisle. Stage Star is a very nice prospect, looks to have improved since then and has plenty in his favour.
Best Chance. Stage Star - 15:35. He is a marginal choice over Knappers Hill because we know he will handle the deep ground at Ascot.