In his Betfair column, top trainer Paul Nicholls gives readers the lowdown on his Saturday runners at Newbury.
12.10 – Estelle Ma Belle
She is a nice mare who earned a crack at this Listed race after a pleasing winning debut for us at Ffos Las six weeks ago on her first run since a wind op.
Estelle Ma Belle has had a few issues so that was her first outing for 442 days and she has tightened up since then.
On ratings she has to find quite a lot with a few of her opponents here but I’m expecting her to run very well.
12.40 – Southfield Stone
He has taken well to fences, is progressive and this is his last chance to compete in novice company.
On his first start this season at Cheltenham he beat Coole Cody who proceeded to win the Paddy Power Gold next time.
Southfield Stone then couldn’t lay a glove on Protektorat back at Cheltenham but still ran as well as can be expected as the winner looked a serious horse.
He will enjoy the flat track and better ground.
12.40 – Next Destination
I was over the moon with his performance at Wetherby a month ago on his first start for 920 days.
To stay on as he did into second place behind the smart mare Roksana was awesome after being off for all that time.
I’d half been training him with the handbrake on and he has definitely improved for the run.
Next Destination is a Grade 1 winning hurdler, looks every inch a chaser and his schooling has been very good ahead of this debut over fences.
He is an exciting prospect.
1.15 – Brelan d’As
He was runner-up to Kapcorse in this race two years ago and more recently had a little issue which prevented him running at the Cheltenham Festival in the spring.
I took him back to Cheltenham for the Paddy Power Gold Cup recently but he couldn’t handle the deep ground that day.
I’m hoping for better from him now on decent ground.
13.15 – Kapcorse
He won this race two years ago in style but missed last season through a few issues which was frustrating.
He seems in good shape again now and I’m hopeful of a good run from him but obviously I would have preferred to have given him a run somewhere beforehand.
1.50 – Christopher Wood
He’s a useful handicapper who won on the flat in the summer at Pontefract ridden by my daughter Megan before having a little holiday.
So he probably just needed the run when he was third over hurdles at Bangor just over two weeks ago.
He is in good shape now and will be fine on the ground at Newbury.
1.50 – Amour de Nuit
He has been very consistent and versatile, too, and is up to a mark of 140 after winning cosily over hurdles at Plumpton at the start of the month over this trip.
That was a decent performance as he’d been on the sidelines since February with a leg injury.
I had been planning to switch him straight back to fences after Plumpton but the way he won there persuaded me to change my mind and give him a shot at this Class 2 race.
2.25 – Thyme White
He won impressively on good ground at Chepstow seven weeks ago and was due to have a crack at the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham until the ground turned heavy.
Conditions at Newbury will be much more to the liking of Thyme Wood in a race I always like to target although it is hard for four year olds against older horses who do not get any weight allowances for their age.
3.00 – Secret Investor
The ground at Newbury is ideal for Secret Investor who has had a great prep for this and won comfortably at Chepstow in October from Potterman who subsequently boosted the from at Wincanton.
This has been the target for Secret Investor ever since, he is 3lbs higher in future handicaps and we know he enjoys the track as he was an excellent second to Native River in the Denman Chase in the spring.
He looks unbelievable at the moment and has a cracking chance.
3.00 -Danny Whizzbang
I’ve felt the Ladbroke Trophy was the obvious race for Danny Whizzbang since he won his novice chase at this meeting a year ago though it’s fair to say things did not entirely go to plan after that.
But he has plenty of ability, stays well and I am still kicking myself for running him in then Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton three weeks ago as the ground was too fast and it all happened a bit too quickly for him.
Danny did have a bit of a nosebleed afterwards which we think happened when he banged himself because he has been right as rain since.
Newbury will suit him much better than Wincanton and he is not going there just to make up the numbers.