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Thursday's expert tips - Nicholls, Elliott, Henderson, Tizzard and Scudamore discuss their runners

Jonathan Vine 27 Dec 2018
Trainers Paul Nicholls (L) and Nicky Henderson (R) during gallops ahead of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival.

Using their respective bookmaker's blogs, Paul Nicholls, Gordon Elliott, Nicky Henderson, Joe Tizzard and Tom Scudamore discuss their runners at Kempton, Chepstow, Leopardstown and Limerick.

Another bumper day of racing to whet the appetite of any punter today, with big race action coming to us live from across Britain and Ireland. Using their blogs with Betfair, Unibet and Coral, trainers Paul Nicholls, Gordon Elliott and Nicky Henderson, along with Joe Tizzard and Tom Scudamore, discuss their chances of finding winners at today's major meetings.

Paul Nicholls (Betfair)


12:30 - Blackjack Kennedy

A nice prospect who joined us a year ago after an impressive winning debut for Colin Bowe in a point-to-point in Ireland. He then spent some time in training here during the spring before his summer holiday.

Blackjack Kennedy couldn't have jumped better in his point and displayed a pleasing attitude as he outstayed his rivals in rain softened ground. He is a big, backward type who is likely to need the run in this and will profit from the experience.

13:05 - Touch Kick

Won on his seasonal debut at Hereford in November and then ran well when finishing a respectable second to an impressive winner Aso at Newbury who had some smart form in the past.

While I don't think Touch Kick could possibly have beaten Aso that day I suspect we didn't make enough use of him at Newbury. We will try to ride him more positively at Chepstow on softer ground that will be in his favour.

13:35 - Quel Destin

Is on a roll at present and completed his hat trick last time at Doncaster twelve days ago where he dug deep to outrun Elysees on the flat.

Although all his wins for us have been on good ground he was successful on heavy going in France and very much shapes like a stayer who will be well suited by the demands of the Triumph Hurdle.

This is the classiest race Quel Destin has contested so far but he is talented, tough, consistent and jumps well so will relish a strong gallop at Chepstow. He is definitely improving and I expect a big run from him.

14:10 - Truckers Lodge

He came good last time with a ten length success at this track when he was very well suited by stepping up in trip on heavy ground. The handicapper reacted by raising Truckers Lodge by 13lbs to a mark of 136 which makes life a fair bit harder for him in this.

But Lorcan Williams again claims a handy 5lbs off his back and he is progressive and in good shape, so should be competitive again in this better race.

15:55 - Ask For Glory

An exciting prospect who joined us after showing a good blend of speed and stamina on his racecourse debut in the spring in a point-to-point at Bartlemy in Ireland as a four year old. I felt he needed a bit of time after we purchased him at Doncaster as he was rather lean and light and he has repaid our patience by thriving in recent weeks.

Ask For Glory is a lovely big horse and while you can't be sure of the form of his only point he was bought with chasing in mind and we are taking our time with him so he will stick to bumpers this season.

He looks fantastic now and I can't wait to see how he gets on here. I will be disappointed if he doesn't go close.


12:50 - Deadline Diva

She is a Frankel filly who won twice on the flat at in France before winning impressively on her debut over hurdles at Bordeaux Le Bouscat for Guillaume Macaire in September.

We then bought Deadline Diva, a nice attractive filly who has quickly settled into our training routine at Dicheat. While it is hard to know the value of her win over hurdles she has been schooling well at home and is ready to start for us.

13:20 - Dynamite Dollars

Has done brilliantly since switching to fences this season and put up a career best last time in the Grade 1 Henry VIII at Sandown in beating Ornua and Lalor.

There is a price to pay now for all his success as he carries a stiff penalty here and has to give 5lbs to Kalashnikov which will not be easy. Dynamite Dollars is fit, looks fantastic, is improving and should get a real good tow into the race from the smart mare Maria's Benefit.

The faster they go the better for our horse who probably has it all to do at the weights.

14:30 - Diego Du Charmil

It is hard to find suitable races for Diego Du Charmil who is obviously up against it getting only 6lbs from the two mile champion Altior.

Realistically we are looking to pick up the pieces with Diego who is back in good form after he finished sore in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter where he trod on himself and pulled off a shoe.

He was going well towards the end of the back straight when it happened so you can put a line through that run. While he is a smart horse who enjoys good ground, it is hard to see him troubling Altior.

15:05 - Adrien Du Pont

The better the ground at Kempton the better it will suit Adrien Du Pont who was far too keen last time at Newbury and paid the price in the closing stages.

A better guide to his chance here comes from his previous outing at Ascot where he was dropped right out and was creeping into contention when he made a mistake at the third last fence. Yet, he was still bang there going to the final fence where he stumbled on landing before keeping on to finish a close fourth behind Traffic Fluide.

If he had winged the last Adrien would have gone very close and although his official mark of 144 makes his life difficult in handicaps with so much weight to carry when it all happens for him he will win a nice race. His day will come.

15:35 - Malaya

Is normally a sound jumper of hurdles but took a heavy fall in France last time and we gave her a quiet couple of weeks at home to help her get over it.

She had travelled strongly through the race as if she was sure to be involved at the finish before tiring late on and coming down.
Malaya is fine now but is on quite a tough handicap mark these days and given her nasty experience at Auteuil I think she might just need the run dropping back in trip to two miles.

Trainer Paul Nicholls at Exeter Racecourse .

Gordon Elliott (Betfair)


12:10 - Ingenuity, Ocean Voyage & Seekamist

Ingenuity is a horse we picked up at the horses in training sale in the autumn. He won over six furlongs as a two-year-old but this season he shaped like a horse that would get further than a mile so we took a chance on him at the sales. He is a grand type who jumps well and I'm happy with what he has been able to show us so far. This is usually quite a hot juvenile hurdle so it will be interesting to see how he gets on.

Ocean Voyage hasn't enjoyed much luck since she went jumping. She was too free on her first run over hurdles and her saddle slipped after just a couple of flights last time. From her flat runs I felt that she would be able to make her mark over hurdles but I do think that she will really come into her own when she gets on winter ground. I'm just hoping she does things right here and has a nice, trouble free round.

Seekamist has come to us after three runs on the flat where she didn't show a great deal but hopefully she will improve for the switch to hurdling. She is a straight forward sort who has taken well to jumping and I'd hope that hurdling will bring about some improvement in her but she will have to progress a good deal to play a part here.

12:40 - Dakota Moirette and Mitchouka

Dakota Moirette spent a bit of time on the sidelines after his second run over fences last season and he would have needed his comeback run quite badly at Punchestown last month. Under the circumstances I thought that he ran well before getting tired and he's been going well at home since then. He's been schooling well so we are more than happy to give fences another try and hopefully he will run with credit although his best form would fall short of what some of these have achieved.

Mitchouka's confidence took a knock when he fell on his chasing debut earlier in the season but when he last ran behind Getabird at Punchestown I was pleased with what he showed and he looked to have gotten his confidence back. He's going to have to improve on his last couple of runs over fences to be closely involved here but there is definitely more to come from him as a chaser and I'm expecting a good run from him.

13:15 - Doctor Phoenix

Doctor Phoenix progressed well with racing last season and hopefully it will be a similar story this time around. He needed his first run of the season at Clonmel but then ran much better at Cork to chase home Castlegrace Paddy and I'm hoping he will do better again. Ideally he'd prefer slightly slower ground than he will encounter here but hopefully he'll run to the form that saw him chase home Great Field at Navan in the spring or when he was giving Un De Sceaux a real race at Fairyhouse over Easter only to fall at the second last.

13:50 - Tintangle

Ideally she wants slower ground and more of a trip but this looked an open Grade 1 that doesn't have too many runners so it is worth lining her up here. After falling on her first run over hurdles she bounced back to win at Thurles next time and the two miles of Leopardstown should suit her better than Thurles. It was also encouraging that Sassy Diva, who chased her home at Thurles, was second in a Listed race next time while the third placed mare ran well off a mark of 120 in a handicap hurdle the other day. It will be interesting to see how she gets on.

14:25 - High Expectations, Veinard and Star Maker

High Expectations has had a nice break since he last ran at Cheltenham in October and this looks a nice race to start him back in as all his form would suggest that two miles is what suits him best. He is in good shape and should enjoy the ground and hopefully he will give a good account of himself but he is vulnerable off his current mark.

Veinard should have won more races than he has. He's been frustrating and it's hard to know what the best way to ride him as he seems to struggle to get home in his races. He is a horse with talent though and some day a decent race will fall his way. He will love the ground and he has run well at this track in the past but I would say that he will need his first run since July.

Star Maker is a useful novice and I think he likes a bit of time between his races so it was always the plan to go straight from Punchestown in November to Christmas. I thought that he won quite nicely last time and a six pounds rise for beating a useful horse in Due Reward doesn't look excessive. He should run well.

15:00 - Dounikos, General Principle, Squouateur, Woods Well, Borice and Rogue Angel

Dounikos finished down the field in the Troytown last time when his lack of a recent run counted against him and he probably ran a bit better than his final position would suggest. He won't find it easy off a big weight here and more testing ground would suit him much better too. At his best he would have his chance but his last few runs have fallen well short of what he is capable of.

I thought that General Principle was going to run a big race in the Troytown last time and he was right there with the leaders at the fourth last but he needed the run quite badly and faded out of contention in the straight. He is an Irish National winner and a very capable handicap chaser at his best and if he puts his best foot forward he is more than good enough to get involved.

Squouateur finished a good third in this race last year and also finished third in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham but he then turned in a couple of really poor efforts. His last run over hurdles where he made the running was more encouraging and hopefully he can progress again to produce the sort of performance that he did in last year's race.

Woods Well started his season with an encouraging win in a conditions chase at Galway and I fancied him to run well in the Troytown but he never got into close contention and I thought that he could have jumped better too. I do think he's a horse that could win a good handicap so we'll keep him going in these types of races and a decent showing from him wouldn't come as a great surprise.

Borice is an interesting horse who has come to us from France. I would have preferred to have gotten a run into him but he is fit enough to do himself justice. From what we have seen from him at home he looks a nice handicapper and he did show decent form in some smart races at Auteuil so I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him run a big race.

Rogue Angel put together some good runs earlier in the season and reached the frame in the likes of the Kerry National and the Cork National. He hasn't been quite so good on his last two starts but I'm happy to write off his last run at Fairyhouse which came too soon. There are other horses in this race with more room for improvement and he is a completely open book at this stage but if he puts his best foot forward he could run well.

15:30 - Milan Native

He's a fine, big horse who should make a lovely stayer in time. He's taken a bit of time but we've been patient with him and he's showing us that he's ready to start off. As he lacks a previous run or point-to-point experience he is going to be green and raw and I could see him improving a lot for this experience. Whatever he does today he will improve a lot for this run.


12:25 - Eclair De Beaufeu

He's a grand horse who has run four solid races since coming to Ireland and I think he will improve as the season goes on as he is still only four and has some strengthening up to do. His last run at Navan was possibly his best effort to date and I'm hoping he will win his maiden before too much longer. He has a decent chance.

13:00 - Baby Twig and Edene D'Arc

Baby Twig is a mare with plenty of ability but she has not been easy to train and this will be her first run for us since she won a bumper at Punchestown in October 2016. She jumps well and still looks to retain all her ability so I'm looking forward to getting her started and she will enjoy the ease in the ground. I'd expect her to be a bit rusty but I still wouldn't be surprised to see her go well.

I've been waiting to run Edene D'Arc for a while but the way the ground has been meant that she's had to wait until now to start out. She's in good form and has schooled well and the form of her two bumper outings last season would suggest that she has the capacity to make up into a useful novice hurdler in the mares ranks. I'd hope for a decent showing from her.

14:40 - Burren Life

He has yet to win over fences but he has run some very solid races in defeat and his form over fences so far would suggest that he will be a better chaser than a hurdler. I thought he ran a lovely race in decent handicap chase at Navan earlier this month when he was third to De Name Escapes Me and this race has been his target since then. His jumping is a big asset to him and a repeat of his Navan effort should see him go close.


14:50 - Folsom Blue

Folsom Blue takes his chance under Jamie Codd in the Welsh National and this is just the sort of test that will bring out the best in him. He will relish the soft ground and the trip and he has come on for his reappearance at Haydock last month when he needed the run but did stay on reasonably well when the race was over.

He's run well in a couple of Irish Nationals and he's a dual winner of the Grand National Trial at Punchestown so if he brings that form to this race he should be able to give a good account of himself.

Gordon Elliott (R) at Punchestown racecourse.

Nicky Henderson (Unibet)


Chaparral Prince (Nico de Boinville)
He’s had a wind operation since his last run which I hope will help and the good ground will also be in his favour. His work has been good and I think he will improve on his last run, but he will need to as this looks a decent race.

2:30 Unibet Desert Orchid Chase
Altior (Nico de Boinville)
We decided to let him take his chance as he came out of Sandown in great form and will enjoy another spin around. Obviously he's clear on ratings and he’ll love the ground. There’s not much more to add other than to say I hope he has a trouble free journey and comes back safe.

Kilcrea Vale (Jerry McGrath)
I was very pleased with his excellent effort when third in the Grand Sefton at Aintree last time. We’ve done very little with him at home since his latest run to keep him fresh so he comes here in good form. I think he has a great chance and the track will really suit.

Pacific De Baune (Nico de Boinville)
Things didn’t go to plan at Doncaster last time when he unseated Jerry at the seventh and while I have no doubt we’ll go back over fences with him, I thought this looked a great opportunity for him off his mark and I can see him running a big race on ground he’ll love.


1:35 Adjali (Daryl Jacob)
This has always been the plan ever since his impressive debut for us at Market Rasen and we hold him in very high regard. Obviously this is another step up but he shows me enough at home to be pretty confident he can handle it and I expect a bold show.

2:50 Vyta Du Roc (Daryl Jacob)
Everyone knows my record in Grand Nationals is appalling so I couldn’t be overly confident with this horse but the race will be run on good ground, which is quite unusual, and the run at Bangor should have blown the cobwebs away. I’ve always thought there is a good race in him and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go well. He schooled brilliantly earlier in the week and is in very good form at home.

Joe Tizzard with Native River during the national hunt trainer Colin Tizzard stable visit.

Joe Tizzard (Coral)

12.30 Chepstow – Nativegetaway

They have given him a handicap mark of 120 but he could not qualify for the handicap race there as he has had just the two runs so he needs to have another spin. He likes the track and 2m3f is just about ok on this ground. It looks to be a competitive maiden hurdle and there might be one or two better than him in there. He has been ultra-consistent though and we have been really pleased with him since he came to us.

1.05 Chepstow – Grand Vision

He’s 12 years old now but back home he is as good as ever. We are weary that he is handicapped on the back of a couple of wins last year and he is getting no younger, however, he will enjoy it around here and he is a cracking horse and we are looking to running him.

2.50 Chepstow – Elegant Escape

I have schooled him a couple of times and he has felt really good. After the Ladbroke Trophy, we felt this is the type of trip he wants. Soft ground around Chepstow should be ideal for him. He deserves to run a big race and we think he will. This is one of the big highlights on the racing calendar around Christmas. We won this race with Native River a couple of years ago and it was a big day for us. I was convinced he would win it as he was eight pounds well in following his win in the Hennessy. Elegant Escape is also still progressive and hopefully he can get into a nice rhythm early on and then he will have a serious chance. Tom O’Brien takes the ride as Harry Cobden is at Kempton. Tom has won three times on him so he knows the horse inside out and he has won a Welsh Grand National before so the horse is in good hands.

3.25 Chepstow – Brynmawr

He had a heavy fall at Cheltenham last time where we threw him in at the deep end. This race is exactly what he is all about as it should not be the quickest. Hopefully he is well handicapped on the back of his hurdle form and will have a chance here.

Jockey Tom Scudamore at Newton Abbot.

Tom Scudamore (Coral)

12.30 Chepstow – Jasmine Des Bordes

We were pleased with his first run where he showed a good attitude at Exeter. We have decided to go straight to hurdling with him now as he has schooled well at home. His point-to-point form is solid and hopefully I can get the day off to a good start at Chepstow with a winner. David Pipe’s horses are running well. He had a nice winner last weekend with Daklondike and hopefully he can continue his form over this busy period.

1.05 Chepstow – Le Rocher

The ground can’t get soft enough for this horse. He ran ok at Newton Abbot on his first run this season. He has had a couple of good runs at Auteuil. He was second last time out, it wasn’t a close second, however, he ran very well. He is a good horse on his day but he just needs to jump better than he has done in the past. Hopefully the last few runs have given him some confidence and he is a horse who has a reasonable amount of ability.

2.50 Chepstow – Vieux Lion Rouge

David has two horses in the race and it was a tough decision to make as to which one I’d ride. Ramses De Teillee won the trail race and has a great record at Chepstow. My big question about him is if he stays or not. I could not write him off though, but in Vieux Lion Rouge I will be on a horse who I cannot doubt his stamina. I think the bookmakers have got it wrong as there are less question marks with Vieux Lion Rouge. He ran a superb race in the Becher at Aintree last time where he finished second. I am very confident about his chances as this 3m5f trip should be ideal for him. The last couple of years his season has been geared towards the Grand National. He felt much more like himself last time out which is a good sign. I am the only Scudamore who hasn’t won the Welsh National as my Dad and Granddad were both successful. It has been a very lucky race for my family and I think this year is my best chance of winning it.

3.25 Chepstow – Brynmawr

He ran in a very good novice chase at Cheltenham last time but sadly he came down. His hurdle form always suggested he would be a chaser and let’s hope he can get his first success over fences in this race.

3.55 Chepstow – Born To Sting

I know very little about this horse other than the fact he is by Scorpion. It’s nice to ride another one for Tom George though and I am sure he will have him nicely prepared for this.

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Thursday's expert tips - Nicholls, Elliott, Henderson, Tizzard and Scudamore discuss their runners

Using their respective bookmaker's blogs, Paul Nicholls, Gordon Elliott, Nicky Henderson, Joe Tizzard and Tom Scudamore discuss their runners at Kempton, Chepstow, Leopardstown and Limerick.

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