Nuts Well makes the big leap into Grade One for the first time in the Marsh Chase in Aintree.
Trained in Northumberland by Ann Hamilton for her husband Ian, Nuts Well has won five of his last six races – including the Old Roan Chase at this course and distance in October.
The 10-year-old has not been seen since then – and while his form has worked, he nevertheless tackles another level of opponent on Friday.
“There’s nothing wrong with him – it’s just circumstances,” said Ian Hamilton.
“The Peterborough Chase was gone. We took it to Wetherby, but the ground was hock-deep. We wanted to go to Kempton, but felt it was going overhead – and we didn’t think Cheltenham would suit it high. below.
“It means he hasn’t run in 166 days, but he’s heading out there fresh and fine as the course and distance winner.
“He encounters a few of them hurt in weight, but not overwhelmingly. We just hope they haven’t watered too much – he likes good soil.”
Paul Nicholls introduces three of the eight players in the peloton, led by Political Scientist – who won this race in 2018 but was late absent from the Queen Mother at Cheltenham last month.
“He’s been A1 since we had to retire him at the last minute at Cheltenham after finding a trickle of blood in his nose,” Nicholls told Betfair.
“In fact, I would say he’s better on his own than he was three weeks ago.
“He won this race three years ago, and it helps that last year’s winner Min is missing this time around. Political scientist has pulled this trip off a few times – he likes to go left-handed and looks at Aintree like a great player. His race record. After a break of at least 71 days, it’s exceptional. “
Nicholls also expects a great race from Master Tommytucker.
He said: “Although he was beaten by two lengths by Dashel Drasher at Ascot the last time on soft ground, I have a feeling that being left-handed on this flatter track on drier ground will suit him much better. .
“He fully deserves a chance in this first year.
“Tommy is a top class horse, hasn’t had a lot of races and is still improving. He more than deserves a chance at this grade one.”
A former winner of Arkle, Duc Des Genievres, completes the Nicholls team.
“He’s one of those horses stuck in the no man’s land between handicaps and classified races,” Nicholls said.
“We tried more patient tactics on him at Cheltenham last time around, but he likes to get it right, so we’ll be looking to be positive with him. Although he faces a tough task, he will enjoy the flat track of ‘Aintree. “
Anything that comes from Ireland should always be respected, and Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’udairies has a very strong form in the book. He was, however, ready to run to Fairyhouse earlier in the week.
“We decided to remove Fakir D’udairies from Fairyhouse last Monday after walking the trail,” said O’Brien.
“I thought it was too fast for him, and we have to put the horse first. It’s certainly a stronger race than he was supposed to run on Monday, but his excellent run in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival gives him the right to a first-rate chance.
“We’ll be back on the pitch on Friday – and as long as he’s safe, he’ll try his luck. This mid-range trip is probably his best distance, and he ran really well in this meeting as a juvenile obstacle. Unexpected rain would be welcome! “
Ascot Chase winner Dashel Drasher, Olly Murphy’s Itchy Feet and Henry de Bromhead’s notebook complete the pitch.