Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls discusses the form and prospects of his runners, as they head to Chepstow and Kempton on Saturday afternoon...
"*Best chance of the weekend. Art Mauresque each-way at Kempton. He ran a career best last time behind Waiting Patiently, will love the drying ground and Is ready for this step up in trip to three miles."
My five runners at Chepstow
Not the easiest to train as he has more than his share of issues which is why he hasn't had many races.
He ran very well last time on his recent return at Exeter from a four month break, finishing a close fourth, staying on despite being hampered after the final flight by the runner-up Mount Rushmoore who re-opposes.
We've had a clear run with Blu Cavalier since then and I am hopeful he can go close in this.
Did well for us on the flat over the summer, winning two handicaps at Salisbury, and has enjoyed a little break since his last run over hurdles Taunton.
Moabit is one of mine that can handle soft ground, he's ready to go again and should be in the shake up in this qualifier for the Challenger Two Mile Hurdle Series Final.
Ptit Zig has been a great flag-bearer for us over the years but is not quite as good these days though the handicapper doesn't seem in a hurry to agree as he's only dropped him a few pounds after several ordinary runs this season.
It is not going to be easy for Ptit Zig to give lumps of weight all round in this but Stan Sheppard takes a handy 3lbs off his back and hopefully he can finish in the first six which would qualify him for the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham.
Connetable has been knocking on the door all season and was unlucky not to win at Sandown two months ago when he led throughout until he was collared close home on the final hill.
He ran another solid race last time at Musselburgh, staying on stoutly at the finish and he should be in the money again here, ridden by Bryony Frost, which should put him spot on for the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham.
Ran a really nice, promising race on his debut in a bumper at Exeter, has come on for the experience and has a reasonable chance here although you never quite know what you are taking on in these types of races.
My eight runners at Kempton...
Has taken really well to fences, winning impressively at Huntingdon and Kempton before narrowly losing out in a terrific duel with the highly rated Terrefort early this month at Sandown where he showed a great attitude.
While Cyrname had quite a hard race that day, and this comes soon enough, he seems fine at home, is best going right-handed and both the trip and the track will play to his strengths. Great chance.
Grand Sancy is a bit too keen for his own good which is why he wears a hood but he has still run to a decent level in finishing second on both his starts over hurdles.
His enthusiastic style of racing has meant he hasn't had much left in the tank at the business end on unsuitably testing ground and he will be much happier this time on the drying ground at Kempton.
Grand Sancy faces a tough task against some very useful juveniles but the experience will not be lost on him if he can get a bit of cover.
Malaya is a fine, scopey mare who had classy form in France before joining us and won a Listed Hurdle in good style at Wetherby in November before struggling in deep ground that was virtually unraceable at Aintree early in December.
Malaya has had a nice little break since then to freshen her up, is working well and should enjoy the drier ground at Kempton. Even so, I've left plenty to work on ahead of her next race, the Fred Winter Hurdle at the Festival.
Is a horse I rate highly. He won gamely at Aintree in December and then ran really well when third in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown on heavy ground. He would have finished a lot closer but for some sloppy jumping as the race came to the boil.
The form looked smart at the time and has since been well and truly franked by the runner up Kalashnikov winning the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury.
Mont Des Avaloirs had a touch of sore shins after Sandown which probably explains the way he jumped there. He has had plenty of schooling since then over hurdles and fences, should be well suited by the flat track at Kempton and we are trying him in a hood to help him relax better.
Art Mauresque surprised and delighted me by finishing runner-up to the top Northern chaser Waiting Patiently at Kempton five weeks ago.
That was a career best performance by Art Mauresque who always runs well fresh, remains in good form and will definitely enjoy the drier going at Kempton.
I've always thought he would stay three miles but he got no further than the first fence at Ascot the first time over the trip. Where better to try three miles again than at this flat track with ground conditions to suit? Big chance.
Ad De Mee comes here en route to the Grand National which has been his main target all season and you can put a line through his last run at Aintree in atrocious conditions.
He is one of many of ours that I have kept fresh for a spring campaign. I expect him to run well and benefit for the experience.
There is no denying that he has been disappointing since joining us from France with a big reputation. A heavy fall at Wincanton earlier this season didn't help though he then ran much better when a close third at Kempton in November, jumping soundly and staying on well.
That was followed by a below par run a fortnight later when he was pulled up after a few jumping mistakes early on.
Favorito Buck's is more than capable of playing a part here with a trouble-free round of jumping.
I pulled him out of his intended debut for us at Newbury a fortnight ago at the last minute. It was the final race, it had rained all day and it wouldn't have been fair to run him on heavy ground at this early stage of his career.
There is a lot to like about Danny Kirwan who was a highly impressive winner of his only Point-to-Point in Ireland and arrived with a big reputation.
His homework has been encouraging but he is not really a bumper horse and is only running in this because it is too late in the season for him to go over hurdles.
While he is very much one for the future I'll be disappointed if he doesn't run well.
*Best chance of the weekend. Art Mauresque each-way at Kempton. He ran a career best last time behind Waiting Patiently, will love the drying ground and Is ready for this step up in trip to three miles.