Trainer Paul Nicholls
Trainer Paul Nicholls

Paul Nicholls column: Betfair ambassador on his latest runners

Betfair ambassador Paul Nicholls guides you through his team for Sandown, Aintree and Chepstow on Saturday.

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12:05 - Outlaw Peter

He won his bumper nicely on his debut for us at Worcester in October and was then just a bit too keen for his own good at Exeter where he finished fourth on his first start over hurdles and didn’t quite get home after racing prominently. The trip of two miles, five furlongs just stretched him that day and he should be happier back at two miles in a first time tongue tie. This race is named after my great friend Andy Stewart whose family own Outlaw Peter.

13:50 - Il Ridoto

He has been raised 12 lbs by the handicapper after his stylish victory last Saturday at Newbury. That still leaves him with a bit to do with some of his rivals in this Grade 1 Novice Chase but it’s in his favour that he gets the 6lbs allowance as a four year old. Il Ridoto came on plenty for his first run at Newton Abbot, was slick over his fences at Newbury and seems in very good shape since then. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him run a big race.

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14:25 - Greaneteen

We have two decent chances in the Tingle Creek, a race we’ve won ten times, and there is not much between them. Greaneteen goes on any ground and loves Sandown having finished second in the Tingle Creek last year before beating Altior in the Celebration Chase at the track on the last day of the season ridden by Bryony Frost. In between he wasn’t far behind Nube Negra in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham. Greaneteen needed the run behind Eldorado Allen in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter recently and is a lot lighter, tighter and sharper now.

14:25 - Hitman

He looked all over the winner as he jumped the last in front in the Haldon Gold Cup before he idled a bit on the run in and was collared late on by Eldorado Allen. Hitman’s jumping was phenomenal but he is still learning about racing and needs to learn to buckle down when he comes off the bridle. It will come with experience and the stronger the race is run the better he will go. I’m hoping that fitting a tongue tie can also help. It’s encouraging that Kauto Star finished second in the Exeter race as a five year old off a mark of a rating of 149 before winning the Tingle Creek in 2005. Horses improve dramatically at that age and Hitman, also aged five, ran off 151 at Exeter. I’m not saying he is Kauto Star’s level but he has bags of scope to get much better. I think he will be in the mix and Harry Cobden is more than happy to ride him.

15:00 - Highland Hunter

I’ve been trying to run him for over a month but haven’t wanted to risk him on quick ground. So hopefully they will have had enough rain at Sandown. A strong stayer, he will need the outing which will hopefully put him spot on for the Coral Welsh National in which he has 10st 5lbs. This looks a perfect prep race.

15:35 - Samarrive

He ran very well at Cheltenham, travelled down the hill with a chance, and wasn’t beaten that far on ground that was quicker than ideal. We think he will be happier going right-handed and slower ground will also help. I’m expecting improvement from Samarrive who is lightly raced and has plenty in his favour running off a nice, light weight.

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14:05 - Simply the Betts

He ran a sound race under a big weight on his debut for us in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham last month after racing keenly in the front rank. I felt he might well have finished second but for a mistake at the last fence. The way he kept going up the hill encouraged me to think he was worth a try at three miles on a flat track like Aintree. It was a case of running here or nearly ending up with top weight in the Racing Post Gold Cup at Cheltenham next weekend. Simply The Betts has improved since Cheltenham and should be competitive.


12:12 - Grange Road

He just lost out in a photo at Exeter against Ask Me Early who is much more experienced. It was a decent run from Grange Road, a useful prospect who was giving weight to the winner that day and significantly he is much better off with Ask Me Early this time. The softer ground at Chepstow the better for Grange Road, a genuine horse who is is a thorough stayer.

12:47 Brewers Project

They went a bit too quick at Chepstow for Brewers Project who jumped Ok on his debut over fences but was always on the back foot. It makes sense to step him up in trip here and in time he may well want even further. He was consistent last season and I’ve always been hopeful that chasing would be his game.

13:22 - Take You Time

He looked good when winning tidily in soft ground at a Ffos Las last time and the handicapper played fair by only raising him 6lbs. I’m hoping they have had plenty of rain at Chepstow because he is at his best in testing conditions. He should be competitive with his jockey Lorcan Williams claiming a useful 3lbs.

13:57 - Truckers Lodge

He's is a mudlark so I’ve been waiting patiently for conditions to come in his favour. Although three miles is on the sharp side for him he goes to Chepstow because he needs a run to bring him on before the Coral Welsh National which is again his first main target of the season. Last year a ratings restriction prevented some of the better horses getting into this trial but that has been removed and Chepstow has been rewarded with a better race.

14:32 - Broken Halo

Although he needed his first run of the season at Sandown he still led to two out before tiring quickly and being pulled up. He is much sharper now and as a point-to-point winner was always going to a chaser. This novice handicap Chase over almost three miles with a bit of cut in the ground will be much more up his street on his debut over fences.

15:09 - Complete Unknown

He joined us this season after winning a bumper impressively at Thurles in the spring and was only just outgunned in a tight finish to a competitive novice hurdle on his debut for us at Warwick 29 days ago. He ran a bit green that day and might well have won but for mistakes at the last two hurdles. Complete Unknown has done well since then, will keep improving, and looks a live threat to the likely favourite Ree Okka.

Best chance: Grange Road (12:12 Chepstow) - He has a handy pull in the weights with Ask Me Early who just beat him in a tight finish at Exeter.

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