Sky Sports News: Stable tours
The Sky Sports News cameras have been at the major National Hunt yards to get horses to follow for the season ahead.
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David Craig spoke to former champion trainer Paul Nicholls on Monday morning and the Ditcheat maestro has high hopes for two of his staying chasers.
"Al Ferof has been off since he won the Paddy Power Gold Cup last season. He was at home with the Hales' over the summer and they did a great job with him. He had a racecourse gallop on Sunday which went nicely and he's going to reappear at Ascot on Saturday week. We're very happy with him and hopefully that's a stepping stone for the King George.
"Silviniaco Conti did very well last year and was still traveling strongly when he fell three out in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup. He's only seven and is entitled to improve. His work has been good and he'll be ready to go to Haydock next weekend for the Betfair Chase.
"We're a bit light in terms of older novice hurdlers at the moment. Our best Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle horse would be Lac Fontana who won at Cheltenham's last meeting and goes back there at the weekend.
"We do have some lovely young horses. Art Mauresque won three times in France and he's a nice horse. He'll run at the Open Meeting while Calipto is another of the dark horses to follow. He could start at Newbury."
Craig was also at Colin Tizzard's Somerset base where the trainer gave him an update on stable star Cue Card.
"He ran at Exeter last week and the race has brought him on, there's no two ways about that. I was a a little disappointed with him initially but looking back he ran a super race.
"He's been brilliant for us and has really put the yard on the map. As long as it doesn't come up bottomless he'll go to Haydock for the Betfair Chase next.
"Golden Chieftain was another Cheltenham Festival winner for us. We had him nearly ready to run three weeks ago but he just threw a splint. He was trotted up this morning and was still nodding on his head a bit. He'll need another week to come right and it's the first time in his career he's missed any time but we'll wait.
"Midnight Thunder is a lovely young horse of ours. He ran at the first Cheltenham meeting in a bumper and was the first one beaten. Going there he'd been brilliant at home. He'd won his only point-to-point in Ireland and was really good on our gallops.
"We blood tested and scoped him afterwards and while nothing came to light he has blossomed since. I wouldn't put people off him."
Alex Hammond was at Nigel Twiston-Davies' yard and understandably Stan James Champion Hurdle favourite The New One was the first under the trainer's microscope.
"He's now favourite for the Champion Hurdle. lets hope we can keep him there. He'll go to the Stan James International at Cheltenham then the William Hill Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
"African Gold goes chasing and he runs at Cheltenham on Saturday. He's in really good nick and we're looking forward to him. Imperial Commander will hopefully run in the Hennessy or the Betfair at Haydock. We think he's as good as ever but time will tell.
"Elsewhere we run two nice horses at Cheltenham this weekend. Tour Des Champs runs in the staying chase and Pure Science is a nice novice hurdler who heads there."
Kim Bailey opened his doors and had news of Harry Topper, winner of the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
"He's the best horse I've had for a long time. He's 156-rated, only six and going in the right direction. Sandown on December 6 is probably next. I don't want to put him in handicaps this season. He's not strong enough and I don't think he's mentally ready for it. We'll take it gently with him, he's only six and we've plenty of time. The Gold Cup is the ultimate dream but whether it's this year. I don't know."
"Silver Eagle was narrowly beaten at Cheltenham last time and heads back there weekend. He's very much a chaser in the making but has won a couple of hurdles and should win more. Un Ace looks like being a very good horse. He was third under a penalty in a bumper that is working out very well. He could be one to follow."