Paul Nicholls is a man to be feared at his local track and the ten-time champion trainer could embellish his strong record at Wincanton on Saturday.
Nicholls has his team in good order lately as he attempts to go about getting his trainers’ title back from Nicky Henderson, as evidenced with a midweek one-two in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter.
He looks to have a very strong candidate for Wincanton’s feature event, the Badger Ales Trophy (15:35), in the form of 17/2 chance Present Man.
He was a well-backed favourite for this event a year ago but fell very early on. That jumping error belied his form over the season, as he ended with a record of four wins in seven chase starts including a three-mile Doncaster Grade 2.
He’s back for another crack at this contest now, looking to enhance Nicholls’ superb 38% strike rate at Wincanton in 2017.
Present Man won over hurdles last month at Kempton to warm up for this and with Bryony Frost claiming 5lb, he looks to have solid credentials of making amends for 12 months ago.
Earlier on the card, Imperial Cup winner London Prize is fancied for a winning return to hurdling in the Grade 2 Elite Hurdle (15:00) over a trip just shy of two-miles.
Ian Williams’ runner has excelled on the Flat in staying contests over the summer/autumn, winning the Northumberland Vase on the all-weather at Newcastle in July and, more impressively, running a fine second last month in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket.
Back over timber receiving weight from his rivals and with first-time cheekpieces added, London Prize can defy odds of 5/1 to take this Wincanton contest ahead of what could be a decent season over the jumps for him.
Meanwhile at Doncaster, Roger Charlton’s Time Chaser is fancied to land the Listed Fillies’ contest over a mile and a quarter at 14:40.
The daughter of Dubawi won on her first three starts and is on something of a retrieval mission having been turned over last time out on very testing ground at Haydock.
She can be forgiven that run given she travelled sweetly into the race and just didn’t pick up in the mud as expected. Jim Crowley’s mount now looks a fair price at 7/2 to resume her progress, with Vintage Folly the rival she must fear most.
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