Paul Nicholls: Thoughts on my Sunday runners at Cheltenham and Fontwell
Paul Nicholls returns to the final day of the Cheltenham November Meeting with four runners including one in the Greatwood Hurdle, and one more runner at Fontwell...
"Old Guard was attempting the impossible giving 13lbs to Verdana Blue at Kempton but still finished an honourable second and then found the ground a bit too quick last time at Wetherby where he again ran well. So while he appears to be up against it here I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him make the frame."
13:15 - The Dellercheckout
Was a bit disappointing last year and wasn't quite finishing his races bar one good run at Bangor but to be fair he was big and backward.
He looks to have strengthened up during the summer and has also had an op to help his breathing. I am optimistic that The Dellercheckout can progress this season and he looks a contender in this boys race off a mark off 122 with our conditional Lorcan Williams taking the ride. We haven't seen the best of this horse yet.
He's a Dynamite
13:50 - Dynamite Dollars
I was thrilled with the way he jumped and travelled on his way to an impressive winning debut over fences at Market Rasen a month ago. He was always going to be a chaser and the form has already been given a boost with Highway One O One, the horse he thumped there since winning a valuable race at Carlisle beating Dolos earlier this week.
I did have Dollars in another novice chase at Cheltenham on Friday but kept him for this good race. While I suspect he wants further than two miles he is rated 146, jumps great and by putting our toe in the water in this Grade 2 Chase against some smart sorts we will find out where we stand with him.
Loves the fast lane
14:25 - Le Prezien
A talented horse who threatened to win a big prize all last season and finally came good in the Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival which was run at a really fast pace which suits his style of running. Now up to a career high mark of 156 he is getting to the stage that he is almost out of handicaps so this looks Grade 2 race over two miles looks a good starting point for him at a course that seems to suit him.
It's true he would prefer softer ground and he does stay much further than two miles but I am hopeful he can play a part.
No changing of this guard
15:00 - Old Guard
Has been a fabulous horse for us down the years and is still only seven. He won this race three years ago and has no secrets from the handicapper which is why he carries top weight in this fiercely competitive handicap. So it makes sense to make use of Lorcan Williams 5lbs claim and I am also putting cheek pieces on to help sharpen him up back at the minimum trip.
Old Guard was attempting the impossible giving 13lbs to Verdana Blue at Kempton but still finished an honourable second and then found the ground a bit too quick last time at Wetherby where he again ran well. So while he appears to be up against it here I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him make the frame.
16:00 - McFabulous
Is a lovely young prospect, just about the pick of a smart bunch of our four year old bumper horses that have been carrying all before them in the past month or so.
He overcame greeness to win decisively on his debut at Chepstow once the penny dropped and was galloping on strongly at the finish.
While it does look a hot race we really like McFabulous who has improved massively since Chepstow. He worked very well at home on Thursday and was in cruise control upsides a 139 rated horse? He is really exciting.
Soft ground is key
12:55 - Moabit
He was also entered in the Greatwood at Cheltenham but he runs here in the Salmon Spray because soft ground is key to his performance.
Tough, versatile and extremely genuine, Moabit has won a lot of races for us on the flat and over hurdles and hopefully there is more to come while we still have the option of going chasing with him at some point.
He is fit and well after a summer break when it would have been a waste of time running him on lightning fast ground but in April he showed what he can do in the mud at Salisbury with a spirited victory from the from a horse who subsequently finished third in the Cesarewitch.
And he is definitely ready for this after winning a charity race by half the length of the track at Aintree recently.