Nicholls draws up battle plans
Paul Nicholls has confirmed running plans for some of his team over the festive period.
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Christmas will not be the same for the champion trainer without the recently retired Kauto Star representing him in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton Park.
Memories of the star chaser's successes will be close to the surface for the Ditcheat handler, not least because he will be represented in the Boxing Day feature by a half-brother to the five time winner who he reported to be in good form:
"Kauto Stone will run (in the King George), he's in good shape and he won't mind the ground," said Nicholls.
A notable absentee from the King George was Nicholls' progressive Silviniaco Conti with the trainer feeling that the Sunbury on Thames didn't suit his rising star.
Silviniaco Conti finished a well beaten second behind Grands Crus on the card 12 months ago in the Feltham Novices' Chase and Nicholls will be hopeful that Poungach will fare better in this year's renewal.
Dodging Bullets has always been held in high regard and, despite still being a novice, he is expected to take his place in the Christmas Hurdle line-up against some of the leading Champion Hurdle contenders.
The Lexus Chase at Leopardstown is shaping up to be one of the most competitive races of the festive period and Nicholls is set to add further intrigue to the mix with the enigmatic but hugely talented Tidal Bay an intended runner against rising Irish stars Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs.