Sunday, 22 October 2017

Paul Nicholls' sends classy contenders in Kempton's listed double bid

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Paul Nicholls hopes Grade One winner San Benedeto can strengthen his grip on the Haldon Gold Cup, as he makes his seasonal return at Kempton this afternoon.

The five-year-old progressed through the spring winning four races, including Aintree’s Maghull Novice Chase where he won by a head.

His priority is Exeter’s Grade Two in a fortnight, which has been won by the likes of Cue Card, God’s Own and Nicholls’ own Vibrato Valtat.

“This is a prep race for the Haldon Gold Cup,” said the master of Ditcheat.

“He’s in good form and we are happy with him. He should like the ground and he’s run well at Kempton a few times now. He ran a few too many races towards the end of last season, and earnt his break. We will go back chasing with him, but this looks a good starting point for him. He should have a good chance.”

Old Guard currently heads the betting in the listed contest. The experienced six-year-old finished seventh when carrying top weight in last week’s Silver Trophy.

 “Old Guard ran quite tidily last week,” Nicholls added.

“Off top weight he ran well and I only put him in this race last week. He seems in good form, and he could run a nice race for us. It’s an ideal race for both of them now it has been reoffered.”

Dan Skelton’s Optimus Prime makes his first start since finishing second in the Swinton Hurdle.
Hint Of Mint, Miss Spent and Rayvin Black also feature.

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Paul Nicholls won the novice contest last year with Black Corton

Elsewhere in the Better Odds With Matchbook Novices’ Hurdle (3:15), a big performance is expected of Amour De Nuit who finished second in last week’s Persian War.

The improving five-year-old will benefit from the return to two miles, where he previously won a novice event last month.

“He seems in really good form,” said the ten-time champion trainer.

“He was second in the Persian War last week, and that run was encouraging. I think two miles suits him better than two and a half. He’s come out of that race well, and he should run a good race.”

Three-time seasonal winner Listen To The Man remains the main danger for Dan Skelton. He was last seen winning the Prelude at Market Rasen.

Last year’s second New Agenda and Harry Fry’s hurdling debutant Cockney Wren also take their chance.

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