Paul Nicholls has just three runners on Saturday, but with the ground very testing at Ascot he has a big chance in the Betfair Exchange Trophy Hurdle...
"Best Chance. Malaya (ew) - 15:35. The deeper the better the chance of Malaya running another big race at Ascot."
Stiff Ascot track in his favour
He is an out and out stayer who has been knocking on the door in his last two starts and is going to make a nice chaser next season. I'm sure he will win in his turn, and with the stiff nature of the track at Ascot very much in his favour I am expecting another good run from him.
Hoping he can get back on track
He had questions to answer returning to Cheltenham last Saturday but we didn't learn anything because he was effectively out of the race at an early stage after being hampered by a faller. Although Aidan Coleman gave him time to recover he had no chance from that point and sensibly pulled him up shortly after half way rather than give him a hard race for nothing. Saint Sonnet was fine afterwards and I'm hoping he can get back on track and run tidy after disappointing us on his previous start at Cheltenham in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.
She's been trained with this race in mind
Conditions cannot be too testing for Malaya who is a smart mare, has decent form at Ascot and is only 2lbs higher than when she won the Imperial Cup at Sandown 21 months ago. She ran really well on her return this season at Ascot late in October, finishing a clear second to a more than useful type Kid Commando and I've been training her for a crack at this race since then.