Nico’s thoughts on his five Boxing Day rides at Kempton
He just about brings the best level of form into this race, so of course we are hopeful. He has improved in defeat on both his starts this season, and just lost out to a more experienced rival after travelling beautifully for me in a Cheltenham handicap last time. He carries a 5lb penalty back in novice company, but he clearly has a fair shot at this. We take the hood off him here.
He was a fair sort on his day over hurdles but he has long been a chaser in waiting, and we were delighted with his fencing bow at Sandown, a race he finished off really strongly through the line. I’d like to think he would be even sharper here and very competitive once again, despite going up 5lb. Good ground suits him well but he has form on soft if the rain arrives as forecast, so hopefully we will be okay on that front.
It was great to see her back to something like her old self when sharing the spoils with Not So Sleepy in the Fighting Fifth on her return. I think Nicky was over the moon with the run, and hopefully she can progress from it. Possibly, she wouldn’t like quite as much rain as is forecast, but she handles soft well enough.
I know it was only a match but it was important we got a run into him before coming here, and he did what was expected at Sandown. This is different ball game altogether but the form he showed when winning the Marsh and at Aintree has been firmly franked by the second horses this season and he is a seriously talented horse having just his seventh start over fences. We would like to think he is a coming force and in here with a fighting chance against the big boys, though quite clearly Minella Indo, Clan Des Obeaux and Frodon set a very high bar to aim at.
Heross Du Seuil
We were expecting a little more from him at Newton Abbot in May but the winner has since gone on to prove himself a decent horse, the third won his next five starts, and I think the likely softer ground and longer trip will suit my horse, too. I also think a mark of 125 is fair for his level of ability, and he was very good when winning here at this meeting last season.