Nicholls pleased with his two for Saturday’s Betfair Hurdle at Newbury

Paul Nicholls is looking forward to Betfair Super Saturday (February 11) at Newbury when he is set to have two runners Movewiththetimes (5/1 joint favourite with Betfair) and Zubayr (12/1) in the feature Betfair Hurdle (3.35pm), Britain’s richest handicap hurdle worth £155,000.

The Somerset-based handler, out in front in his quest to win an 11thtrainers’ championship, is keen to gain as much of the prize money as possible to bolster the advantage.

Speaking at a media stable visit to Manor Farm Stables, Ditcheat, organised by Betfair in conjunction with Newbury and Ascot Racecourses, he said: “I suspect that Barry (Geraghty) will ride Movewiththetimes, with Nick (Scholfield) on Zubayr and Sam on his father’s horse (Ballyandy). Nothing has been decided yet – I know Sam would love to ride Movewiththetimes if he could. Sam will probably go to Warwick and fly on to Newbury.

“Zubayr surprised us last year by winning the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton. He dropped out last as they went quick and then he stayed on strongly.

“We haven’t ridden like that since then but might do so on Saturday. He is crying out for a real fast-run handicap where he can be dropped in a little bit. He won again at Wincanton, was a bit disappointing in the Triumph Hurdle on ground that was too quick for him and then he went to France and ran very well in a Grade One, beaten a length and a half by Footpad which is good form.

“This season, he started off at Wincanton on ground which was a bit quick and would have been second in the Elite Hurdle. He was flat out all the way and just paid the price for having a cut at the last. Then he was fifth at Sandown with 11st 12lb, beaten only 11.5 lengths, but he was nowhere near his best. He is not the biggest horse for carrying that sort of weight.

“He has had a nice break since then and he will be a nice horse in the spring. He did a nice bit of work with Movewiththetimes last week – you could hardly split them. The Betfair Hurdle might suit him on soft ground. I think the best of him is still to come, but he probably wants two and a half miles.

“Movewiththetimes is a really nice horse. He is a big strong horse by Presenting who will make a lovely chaser in a year’s time. He comes from a good family and made his debut for us last season at Wincanton. We all thought he would win when he ran and he duly obliged in quite a nice bumper.

“He started off over hurdles at Fontwell and won really well. He went to Cheltenham on soft ground in November and was beaten three and a half lengths by Moon Racer – he couldn’t have got into any more trouble if he tried. The race never worked out and he was a bit keen. He then went to Wincanton and won again. He has had a nice break since.

“He is a novice on 136 and you would hope he’d progress from that. You could say he lacks experience after only three starts over hurdles and it is likely to be a fast-run race so he has to be at his best jumping-wise. But who knows where he may end up? We like him a lot.

“He and Zubayr had a little racecourse gallop at Wincanton last week and went nicely. They have done everything together. I will be surprised if Barry does not ride him but he has the choice of all the J P McManus horses.”

Betfair Hurdle, Betfair bet: 5/1 Consul de Thaix, Movewiththetimes; 13/2 Ballyandy; 7/1 Clyne; 9/1 William H Bonney; 12/1 Krugermac, Song Light, Zubayr; 14/1 Wait For Me; 16/1 Beltor, De Name Escapes Me, Renneti; 20/1 Hargam, Veinard; 25/1 Eddiemaurice; 33/1 Ballyhill, Gassin Golf, Kayf Blanco; 40/1 Boite; 50/1 Kapstadt.  EW Terms: 1/4 Odds | 4 Places

Nicholls has a team of horses ready to run at Newbury on Saturday.

The trainer commented: “Dodging Bullets is in the Betfair Exchange Chase (3.00pm) on Saturday and ran in it last year. He is not the horse he was. Altior looks the one to beat but it will probably end up being a four or five runner race.

“Dodging Bullets always runs well – he was fourth at Cheltenham the other day. He is a funny horse. He did well over hurdles but was never a star. He was OK when he went novice chasing, placed fourth in the Arkle. Then the next season, he won three Grade Ones and the Champion Chase, running to a level he had not achieved before or since.

“But he looks great at the moment and there are no physical problems. He will run on Saturday at Newbury and then I suspect he will go for the Grand Annual at Cheltenham, dropping back to a handicap. He has been a grand horse but on form he is not the horse he quite was.”

Betfair Exchange Chase, Betfair bet: 8/15 Altior, 10/3 Fox Norton, 8/1 Garde Le Victoire, 9/1 Traffic Fluide, 25/1 Dodging Bullets & Gino Trail, 66/1 Module.

Nicholls has a very good record in the Betfair Denman Chase, with eight successes since the race was founded in 2000.

PN Visit

He said: “Le Mercurey will run in the Betfair Denman Chase (2.25pm) at Newbury on Saturday. He is one of the five entries and will have to take on Native River and Bristol De Mai.

“Le Mercurey is always better off in a small field on a flat track. He ran very well at Aintree before Christmas when beaten by Many Clouds. Sean (Bowen) thought we ran him a bit negatively that day and if we had taken Many Clouds on it would have been a closer race. He is the sort of horse who can spring a surprise.

“He beat Bristol De Mai in the Ayr Future Champion Novices’ Chase last spring, with blinkers on first time, and goes well when fresh. He is capable of running to a very high level but can be a bit in and out. He got beaten in a handicap at Ascot last time when the bigger field did not suit him.

“It will be better on Saturday over three miles on soft ground, though on form he is probably going for third prize money behind Native River and Bristol De Mai.”

Betfair Denman Chase, Betfair bet: 11/10 Native River, 5/4 Bristol De Mai, 6-/1 More Of That, 8/1 Le Mercurey, 50/1 O Maonlai.

Nicholls continued: “Another horse running on Saturday is Dynamite Dollars and he goes for the Betfair Ready? Bumper (4.45pm) which is quite valuable.

“He has had two runs in bumpers – he was third on his debut at Taunton – a bit of a farce of a race when they sprinted over a furlong. He then went to Cheltenham on New Year’s Day for a four-year-olds only bumper and was beaten by two fillies who were unpenalised.

“That was over a mile and six furlongs and he wants two miles which he will get on Saturday. He is by Buck’s Boum, brother of Big Buck’s, a sire I like.”

The going at Newbury Racecourse, ahead of Saturday, is Soft. Andy Clifton, Head of Communications at Newbury Racecourse, explained: “We have had something like two inches of rain since January 26 and we are going to put the frost covers down today.

“The weather is due to be mildish tonight but we are down to minus one, possibly minus three, on Thursday and Friday so just to be on the safe side we have put the lighter covers down.

“They might make the ground a little bit dead underneath.”

Paul Nicholls is looking forward to Betfair Super Saturday (February 11) at Newbury when he is set to have two runners Movewiththetimes (5/1 joint favourite with Betfair) and Zubayr (12/1) in the feature Betfair Hurdle (3.35pm), Britain’s richest handicap hurdle worth £155,000.

The Somerset-based handler, out in front in his quest to win an 11thtrainers’ championship, is keen to gain as much of the prize money as possible to bolster the advantage.

Speaking at a media stable visit to Manor Farm Stables, Ditcheat, organised by Betfair in conjunction with Newbury and Ascot Racecourses, he said: “I suspect that Barry (Geraghty) will ride Movewiththetimes, with Nick (Scholfield) on Zubayr and Sam on his father’s horse (Ballyandy). Nothing has been decided yet – I know Sam would love to ride Movewiththetimes if he could. Sam will probably go to Warwick and fly on to Newbury.

“Zubayr surprised us last year by winning the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton. He dropped out last as they went quick and then he stayed on strongly.

“We haven’t ridden like that since then but might do so on Saturday. He is crying out for a real fast-run handicap where he can be dropped in a little bit. He won again at Wincanton, was a bit disappointing in the Triumph Hurdle on ground that was too quick for him and then he went to France and ran very well in a Grade One, beaten a length and a half by Footpad which is good form.

“This season, he started off at Wincanton on ground which was a bit quick and would have been second in the Elite Hurdle. He was flat out all the way and just paid the price for having a cut at the last. Then he was fifth at Sandown with 11st 12lb, beaten only 11.5 lengths, but he was nowhere near his best. He is not the biggest horse for carrying that sort of weight.

“He has had a nice break since then and he will be a nice horse in the spring. He did a nice bit of work with Movewiththetimes last week – you could hardly split them. The Betfair Hurdle might suit him on soft ground. I think the best of him is still to come, but he probably wants two and a half miles.

“Movewiththetimes is a really nice horse. He is a big strong horse by Presenting who will make a lovely chaser in a year’s time. He comes from a good family and made his debut for us last season at Wincanton. We all thought he would win when he ran and he duly obliged in quite a nice bumper.

“He started off over hurdles at Fontwell and won really well. He went to Cheltenham on soft ground in November and was beaten three and a half lengths by Moon Racer – he couldn’t have got into any more trouble if he tried. The race never worked out and he was a bit keen. He then went to Wincanton and won again. He has had a nice break since.

“He is a novice on 136 and you would hope he’d progress from that. You could say he lacks experience after only three starts over hurdles and it is likely to be a fast-run race so he has to be at his best jumping-wise. But who knows where he may end up? We like him a lot.

“He and Zubayr had a little racecourse gallop at Wincanton last week and went nicely. They have done everything together. I will be surprised if Barry does not ride him but he has the choice of all the J P McManus horses.”

Betfair Hurdle, Betfair bet: 5/1 Consul de Thaix, Movewiththetimes; 13/2 Ballyandy; 7/1 Clyne; 9/1 William H Bonney; 12/1 Krugermac, Song Light, Zubayr; 14/1 Wait For Me; 16/1 Beltor, De Name Escapes Me, Renneti; 20/1 Hargam, Veinard; 25/1 Eddiemaurice; 33/1 Ballyhill, Gassin Golf, Kayf Blanco; 40/1 Boite; 50/1 Kapstadt.  EW Terms: 1/4 Odds | 4 Places

Nicholls has a team of horses ready to run at Newbury on Saturday.

The trainer commented: “Dodging Bullets is in the Betfair Exchange Chase (3.00pm) on Saturday and ran in it last year. He is not the horse he was. Altior looks the one to beat but it will probably end up being a four or five runner race.

“Dodging Bullets always runs well – he was fourth at Cheltenham the other day. He is a funny horse. He did well over hurdles but was never a star. He was OK when he went novice chasing, placed fourth in the Arkle. Then the next season, he won three Grade Ones and the Champion Chase, running to a level he had not achieved before or since.

“But he looks great at the moment and there are no physical problems. He will run on Saturday at Newbury and then I suspect he will go for the Grand Annual at Cheltenham, dropping back to a handicap. He has been a grand horse but on form he is not the horse he quite was.”

Betfair Exchange Chase, Betfair bet: 8/15 Altior, 10/3 Fox Norton, 8/1 Garde Le Victoire, 9/1 Traffic Fluide, 25/1 Dodging Bullets & Gino Trail, 66/1 Module.

Nicholls has a very good record in the Betfair Denman Chase, with eight successes since the race was founded in 2000.

He said: “Le Mercurey will run in the Betfair Denman Chase (2.25pm) at Newbury on Saturday. He is one of the five entries and will have to take on Native River and Bristol De Mai.

“Le Mercurey is always better off in a small field on a flat track. He ran very well at Aintree before Christmas when beaten by Many Clouds. Sean (Bowen) thought we ran him a bit negatively that day and if we had taken Many Clouds on it would have been a closer race. He is the sort of horse who can spring a surprise.

“He beat Bristol De Mai in the Ayr Future Champion Novices’ Chase last spring, with blinkers on first time, and goes well when fresh. He is capable of running to a very high level but can be a bit in and out. He got beaten in a handicap at Ascot last time when the bigger field did not suit him.

“It will be better on Saturday over three miles on soft ground, though on form he is probably going for third prize money behind Native River and Bristol De Mai.”

Betfair Denman Chase, Betfair bet: 11/10 Native River, 5/4 Bristol De Mai, 6-/1 More Of That, 8/1 Le Mercurey, 50/1 O Maonlai.

Nicholls continued: “Another horse running on Saturday is Dynamite Dollars and he goes for the Betfair Ready? Bumper (4.45pm) which is quite valuable.

“He has had two runs in bumpers – he was third on his debut at Taunton – a bit of a farce of a race when they sprinted over a furlong. He then went to Cheltenham on New Year’s Day for a four-year-olds only bumper and was beaten by two fillies who were unpenalised.

“That was over a mile and six furlongs and he wants two miles which he will get on Saturday. He is by Buck’s Boum, brother of Big Buck’s, a sire I like.”

The going at Newbury Racecourse, ahead of Saturday, is Soft. Andy Clifton, Head of Communications at Newbury Racecourse, explained: “We have had something like two inches of rain since January 26 and we are going to put the frost covers down today.

“The weather is due to be mildish tonight but we are down to minus one, possibly minus three, on Thursday and Friday so just to be on the safe side we have put the lighter covers down.

“They might make the ground a little bit dead underneath.”

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