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Paul Nicholls: The verdict on my Sunday runners at Ascot

Will Sunday bring success at Ascot for Paul and his team?
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Paul sends seven horses to Ascot on Sunday. Here are his exclusive thoughts on their chances...

"While San Benedeto is paying the price for being supremely consistent this season, having won four times, he will love the track and the ground and has to have a big chance in this race even though he is giving over a stone to his six rivals."

14:00
Gibbes Bay

Is one of a number of my horses that have been ticking over at home waiting for better ground which he gets here.

Gibbes Bay made a stylish winning debut his bumper on his debut at Ayr twelve months ago but was all at sea in another bumper in deep ground at Haydock in November.

It was much the same story on his first start over hurdles in really testing conditions at Hereford just over three months ago in the race won by Finian's Oscar.

I am expecting an improved show from Gibbes Bay who has done lots of schooling and will run tidily.


14:30
Dolos

He is a lovely prospect, a chaser in the making, but found things happening a bit too quickly for him in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham where he finished 13th.

That was his first run since an operation to sort out his breathing. Stan Sheppard's 5lbs claim comes in handy on Dolos who still has to give weight to improving horses who are on a winning streak.


15:05
Present Man

Is another who has been enjoying a nice winter break but is fresh and well now and will love the prevailing good ground at Ascot.

He has taken a big step forward this season, winning three times including at this track and needs to be going right-handed.
Should go well for Jack Sherwood who has struck up an excellent partnership with him.


15:40 - Two runners

San Benedeto

Is on a career high mark of 150 after being raised 5lbs for a gutsy victory at Doncaster last time.

While he is paying the price for being supremely consistent this season, having won four times, he will love the track and the ground and has to have a big chance in this race even though he is giving over a stone to his six rivals.


Clic Work

Found the track a bit too sharp at Kempton last time when he was always on the back foot behind Days of Heaven.

The stiffer course at Ascot should suit him much better and you would have to give him another chance here when you consider how well he jumped when winning at Taunton and Doncaster.

It's a valuable prize but I do prefer San Benedeto of my two.


16:50 - Two runners

Pilansberg

Was raised 6lbs after finishing well beaten in third place at Kempton a month ago which seems harsh to me.

If he ran as well there as the handicapper thinks then he ought to be winning this. I'm not so sure, though he will appreciate the step up in trip and the good ground.

It was a question of running Pilansberg under a penalty somewhere in a novice hurdle or taking in this handicap.
Hopefully the handicapper is correct.


Earthmoves

Ran really well over hurdles on his return to action after missing a year with a tendon injury but has been disappointing in two subsequent efforts over fences.

I'm looking for an improved show by Earthmoves now he switches back to hurdles with one of my good claimers Jordan Williams taking off a useful 6lbs.

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