The jumps season has started to ramp up and I think Paul Nicholls is set for another good season.
His RED FORCE ONE (8/1 generally) looks to have a great chance at Ascot (2.45). This four year old had a decent record on the flat, winning three times. Since changing stables from Tom Dascombe to Paul Nicholls he’s had a wind operation and, subsequently, hasn’t been out of the first 4 in his 5 starts for Nicholls.
This handicap mark looks very fair judged on his flat form and he has shown a nice aptitude for hurdling, winning last Friday after a long break off the same 125 mark he runs off tomorrow. The ground should not be a problem and this potential improver looks at the right end of the handicap. Favourite Adjali is an obvious danger but he is making his seasonal debut and has to give over a stone to our in-form, race-fit selection. Plenty other dangers but I think we’ll get a good run for our money and won’t be far away.
For the second bet it is over to Ireland and another Nicholls trained horse CLAN DES OBEAUX (2/1 generally) who is the selection in the Down Royal Champion Chase.. Clan Des Obeaux won the King George last season and followed up in the Denman Chase before a slightly disappointing (but not disastrous) run in the Gold Cup. 3 miles is his forte and there is every possibility this 7 year old will be every bit as good this term as last. Nicholls won’t have sent him over to Ireland on a fool’s errand and he’ll be very hard to beat.
Delta Work could give him plenty to do but has a bit to find on the book with his current profile not quite showing the same depth as Clan Des Obeaux’s record as yet.
We’ll learn more about Delta Work, who I have as a Gold Cup short-lister, but at this stage in the season I think Clan Des Obeaux may have the edge and he looks a good bet at 2/1.