Paul Nicholls: The verdict on my six Saturday runners

Six runners for Paul on Saturday
Six runners for Paul on Saturday

Paul sends runners to Doncaster, Newbury and Lingfield on Saturday, with Grand National hopeful Mon Parrain among them. Here's his exclusive verdict on each...

"Is still in the Grand National, and we have been waiting for this better ground for him to see if he has a realistic chance of going to Aintree. If he runs well here, he will go to Aintree."

15:30 Doncaster - Mon Parrain 



13:45 Doncaster - Cowards Close

Winning pointer who choked on his first start for us, so we sorted his wind out and he won novice hurdles at Exeter and Fakenham afterwards. Needed the run in a handicap hurdle here in December but he was always going to fulfil his potential over fences, and he will get the good ground he needs here. This race has really cut up, so I have to think that he will go close on his chasing debut, especially as he has schooled well and gets 7lb from the useful Victor Hewgo.


15:30 Doncaster - two runners 

Mon Parrain

Is still in the Grand National, and we have been waiting for this better ground for him to see if he has a realistic chance of going to Aintree. If he runs well here, he will go to Aintree. He choked on his reappearance and has since had his palate re-cauterised - we run him in a tongue tie here - so hopefully you will see a different horse today. He is certainly well-handicapped on his Topham second three years ago. He clearly has had his problems since though, missing last season with a leg injury, but he is in pretty good order for this. I would expect him to come on for the run, however.

Harry The Viking

Had a breathing operation in the summer and we thought that he would go well over 3m here on his reappearance, only for him to run disappointingly. He ran much better in first-time blinkers last time - we keep them on today - and he is on a fair mark if he can build on that. This is obviously a competitive race but he is a course and distance winner who loves good ground, with a nice racing weight, so hopefully he is ready to go very close here.


15:50 Newbury - two runners

Rebel Rebellion

I have won six of the last eight runnings of this race. Rebel Rebellion was given a great ride by Ryan when winning the Grand Sefton in December but I thought that the handicapper was a touch harsh in raising him 7lb for that, and he struggled to make an impression when we stepped him back down to 2m at Sandown last time. This trip on testing ground will be more to his liking and we try him in first-time blinkers here to keep his mind on the job. Hopefully they will have the same effect as first-time cheekpieces did when he won at Aintree.

Ulck Du Lin

Has not shown a great deal this season but he has been dropped 13lb since the start of the campaign and that finally gives him a chance. He obviously needs to show a lot more sparkle than he did at Cheltenham last time but he has won at this course, needs soft ground, and has been given a fair shot at the weights, so let's hope a combination of the three sees him give an improved performance. And we stick a tongue-tie on him for the first time, so that could be another positive, too - hopefully he can follow in the footsteps of Ceasar Milan, who is unbeaten since being fitted with one.


16:35 Lingfield - Ranjaan

A rare Flat runner for us, but as he has been going so well in jumpers' bumpers we thought that we would take our chance with him. He clearly doesn't face an easy task racing against 90+ rivals off level weights but he is in great form, having chased home Sgt Reckless and My Tent Or Yours in those two starts at Kempton, and won on the Flat in France, so let's see how we get on. But he is rated 91 himself, and I think he will go well.

***

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