Kempton's Christmas meeting continues and it's Welsh National day at Chepstow, and here with his views on all his runners at both meetings is Paul Nicholls...
"Best Chance: Truckers Lodge EW in Welsh National. He is the ideal type for this marathon and can again finish in the money."
Will improve for this run
He's a big, strong horse who wasn't quite right after winning a bumper last season on testing ground at Chepstow. So we put him away and gave him a wind op in the summer. He's a nice staying chaser for the future and has schooled well but whatever he does on Monday he will improve for the run.
Nice racing weight and ground will suit
She needed the run again last time, and is finally getting to a more realistic handicap mark in a race like this. I'm hoping first time cheekpieces can help Cut The Mustard who has a nice, light weight and is at her best in the mud.
Softer ground will suit and has a solid chance
He has been crying out for soft ground all season and the more it rains at Chepstow the more it will suit him. He won as he liked at this track on his is debut for us and then found the ground a bit too lively when he was fourth at Cheltenham in a race that turned into a bit of a sprint. He was due to run at Doncaster earlier in the month but I had to pull him out on the day because I wasn't happy with him. Solid chance.
Will relish the conditions
He is a strong, staying type, unbeaten in two starts this season and was raised 5lbs after his latest success at this track. He's progressive, should still be competitive on his new mark and will relish testing conditions.
This has been his target for a while
He surprised me by winning narrowly on his seasonal debut at Sandown because I'd left plenty to work on and the ground was quick enough on the day. Although he picked up a 4lbs penalty for this race he still has a handy racing weight of 10st 9lbs, is bound to improve tons for that run and will not mind if it gets heavy at Chepstow. This has been his target since he came back in the summer.
The more rain the better for thorough stayer who enjoys the track
He was a close second in this race two years ago, again ran very well in it in January and is a sporting each-way shot to finish in the money again. He is not the biggest so it's a big bonus that he only has to carry 10st 10lbs in a race in which few of his rivals stay as well as him. I've taken Truckers Lodge out a few times at the last minute this season because the ground hasn't been soft for him and conditions were still faster than ideal when he finally ran in the trial for this race three weeks ago. The more it rains the better his chance.
Hoping for a big run on chase debut
He needed the run the other day at Sandown where he was a bit free before tiring late on. I always thought he would make a nice chaser and he jumps well as you would expect of a horse who ran in a point-to-point. Storm Arising had useful form on soft ground over hurdles last winter and stays well so I am looking for a big run from him on his debut over fences.
Can run well but should improve for the outing
He is a good looking type who joined us after making a winning debut over hurdles at Dieppe in August for Guillaume Macaire. He's been a bit keen at home but is going the right way now and while I expect him to run well he is bound to improve for the experience.
Can outrun his odds if ground is soft
He is knocking on the door over fences, will enjoy going right handed at Kempton where he has run well before, and the softer the ground the more he will appreciate it. Edwardstone looks the one to beat after his recent success success at Sandown but he did have a hard race there. Although we have a bit to find with him on the form book I wouldn't be surprised to see Solo outrun his odds.
Hard to be confident after last run
She is a fun mare, stays forever and has done her winning on right handed tracks, but it is hard to be confident given that she is in the grip of the handicapper and finished in the rear last time at Ascot. Get The Appeal is normally a sound jumper but a bad mistake at half-way was costly that day.
Tingle Creek winner looks fab and can put it up to Shiskin
He comes here in top form after a brilliant triumph in the Tingle Creek at Sandown. That means he has to give 3 lbs to Shiskin who was a top novice last season. But Greaneteen is hard fit after two races, is improving quickly, looks fabulous and worked great on Christmas Eve. I can't wait to see him put it up to Shiskin who has to raise his game on his seasonal debut.
Has a small chance with falling mark
A year ago he was going very well in the King George at this track before stopping very quickly late on when he bled. We gave him a wind op over the summer and it has taken a couple of races for him to regain his confidence. I'm hopeful that he has turned a corner, he is down to a mark of 145 and should have a small each-way chance.
Not overly confident about my two
Hacker Des Places won impressively at Wetherby a year ago but struck into himself that day and took a while to recover. He's ready to go now but has plenty of weight to carry for a four-year-old and while he has done plenty at home he is bound to improve for the run after such a long absence.
Bathsheba Bay has been quite hard to train after missing last season with an injury. He also isn't the easiest to place and I've been waiting for more ease in the ground for him. After winning twice over hurdles two seasons ago he might still be a shade high in the handicap to be competitive.
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