Nicholls sweet on National pair

  • Last Updated: January 30 2014, 11:35 GMT

Paul Nicholls rates Tidal Bay and Rocky Creek as ideal candidates for the Crabbie's Grand National.

Paul Nicholls: National hopes
Paul Nicholls: National hopes

The former, who unseated his rider in the 2011 renewal when trained by Howard Johnson and was a close third in the Coral Welsh Grand National on his latest start, could run next in the Irish Hennessy on Sunday week.

"If it keeps on raining and the ground is testing and we're happy with him then it's definitely a possibility, but we haven't made a definite decision yet," Nicholls told At The Races.

"The National should suit him. The style of the way the race is run over a trip should suit him. He ran very well in the Welsh National off top weight.

"He won what was the Whitbread Gold Cup at Sandown (in 2012). These sorts of races suit him and we are very much looking forward to it if we get him there in the best of form."

While Tidal Bay is a veteran at the age of 13, Rocky Creek is only eight, but already appeals to Nicholls as a National type.

He was second in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in late November and runner-up to The Giant Bolster in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham last Saturday after being held up by a setback.

"He's a great jumper. Ruby (Walsh) always thought last year he was a National horse more than a Gold Cup horse," said the Ditcheat handler, who has seven contenders for Aintree at this stage.

"He had a bit of an interrupted preparation. Just after he ran in the Hennessy he had some colic and we missed some work and on Saturday I was kicking myself afterwards.

"It probably looked like he was going to win going to the last and just got tired. I don't think we've seen the best of him yet and if we can keep him going forward and find another race for him, I just always thought the National would suit him.

"This race takes a lot of winning. It's just nice to have some good horses that could possibly go but nothing is set in stone with any of them."

New Sky Bet customers: Free matched bet up to £30