Nuts Well takes the big leap into Grade One company for the first time in the Marsh Chase at Aintree.
Trained in Northumberland by Ann Hamilton for her husband Ian, Nuts Well has won five of his last six races – including the Old Roan Chase over this course and distance in October.
The 10-year-old has not been seen since then, though – and while his form has worked out, he nevertheless tackles a different standard of opponent on Friday.
“There’s been nothing wrong with him – it’s just been circumstances,” said Ian Hamilton.
“The Peterborough Chase was off. We took him to Wetherby, but the ground was hock deep. We wanted to go to Kempton but felt he was going over the top – and we didn’t think Cheltenham would suit him up and down dale.
“That means he hasn’t run for 166 days, but he’s heading there fresh and well as a course-and-distance winner.
“He meets a few of them wrong at the weights, but not massively. We just hope they haven’t watered too much – he does like good ground.”
Paul Nicholls fields three of the eight-strong field, headed by Politologue – who won this race back in 2018 but was a late absentee from the Queen Mother at Cheltenham last month.
“He has been A1 since we had to withdraw him at the last minute at Cheltenham, after we discovered a trickle of blood in his nose,” Nicholls told Betfair.
“In fact, I’d say he is better in himself than he was three weeks ago.
“He won this race three years ago, and it helps that last year’s winner Min is absent this time. Politologue has been successful over this trip several times – he likes going left handed and looks a big player back at Aintree. His record when running after a break of at least 71 days is outstanding.”
Nicholls is also expecting a big run from Master Tommytucker.
He said: “Although he was beaten two lengths by Dashel Drasher at Ascot last time on soft ground, I have a feeling that going left-handed on this flatter track on drier ground will suit him much better.
“He more than deserves a crack at this Grade One.
“Tommy is a high-class horse, hasn’t had much racing and is still improving. He more than deserves a crack at this Grade One.”
A previous Arkle winner Duc Des Genievres completes Nicholls’ squad.
“He is one of those horses stuck in no man’s land between handicaps and graded races,” said Nicholls.
“We tried more patient tactics on him at Cheltenham last time, but he does like to get on with things, so we will look to be positive on him. While he faces a tough task, he will appreciate the flat track at Aintree.”
Anything that comes over from Ireland should always be respected, and Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies has some very strong placed form in the book. He was, though, all set to run at Fairyhouse earlier in the week.
“We decided to withdraw Fakir D’oudairies from Fairyhouse last Monday after I walked the track,” said O’Brien.
“I felt it was just too quick for him, and we have to put the horse first. This is definitely a stronger race than he was due to run in on Monday, but his excellent run in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival entitles him to a leading chance in it.
“We’ll be having a look at the ground again on Friday – and as long as it’s safe, he’ll take his chance. This mid-range trip is probably his best distance, and he ran very well at this meeting as a juvenile hurdler. Some unexpected rain would be welcomed!”
Ascot Chase winner Dashel Drasher, Olly Murphy’s Itchy Feet and Henry de Bromhead’s Notebook complete the field.