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Paul Nicholls: Miranda is in the form of her life and can repeat Doncaster victory

Betfair ambassador Paul Nicholls sends five runners to Cheltenham as well as five to Doncaster on Saturday, with Miranda looking to replicate her success once again…

“She won this Grade 2 Mares’ race stylishly a year ago and was due to run at Lingfield last weekend until she knocked herself. She was fine by Monday and cantered on Tuesday.”

Cheltenham

Hopefully Iceo can replicate debute

12:45 – Iceo

He was highly impressive carrying a penalty on his debut for us on soft ground at Kempton where despite being keen early on he galloped all the way to the line and recorded a fast time. The ground will be much quicker on Saturday and he has to do it again on a completely different track. Iceo is in great shape, schooled well in midweek and is obviously smart. This race race should tell us whether he goes for the Triumph Hurdle.

Better ground brings hope

13:20 – Solo

He ran very well on his first two starts over fences and was in at the deep end when third to Edwardstone at Kempton over Christmas. I’m sure Solo will appreciate now stepping up in trip to two and a half miles on better ground in this novice handicap. I’m hopeful of a good run.

More realistic mark for Magic

13:55 – Magic Saint

He has been dropped 2lbs after finishing a creditable fourth ridden by Tom Buckley at Cheltenham on January 1 on ground that was softer than ideal. Magic Saint didn’t quite get home in the conditions on the day. He is down to 147 now after starting last year on an unrealistic mark of 158 and with Tom again taking off a further 5lbs he looks to have a decent chance on ground that will suit him much better.

Cheltenham form catches the eye

14:30 – Simply The Betts

He has an excellent record at Cheltenham and was close to his best last time when he stayed on strongly all the way to the line to finish a close second to Vienna Court in the Paddy Power New Year’s Day handicap after being up with the leaders most of the way. Harry Cobden felt we shouldn’t be afraid to have another go at three miles given that the ground was bottomless when we did try it at Liverpool early in December. If Simply The Betts is going to get the trip this is the ground he will do it on. He is right in the mix.

The trip should suit

15:05 – McFabulous

The drier ground conditions at Cheltenham will also favour McFabulous whose switch to fences has been put back to next season because a little injury in the autumn delayed his return to action. I thought he ran a cracking race in the Relkeel Hurdle at this course on New Year’s Day when he didn’t have the clearest passage going to the last before staying on stoutly to finish second to Stormy Ireland. We’d rushed him a bit to get him to Cheltenham, he has definitely come on for the outing and looks to need three miles now.

Doncaster

Cheleda saddles once again

12:25 – Gala de Corton

He won easily at this track on soft ground at the end of last year and going up in trip shouldn’t be an issue. Our good claimer Angus Cheleda keeps the ride on Gala de Corton who will fine on quicker ground this time. I’m expecting another solid run.

Cheek pieces to bring improvement

13:00 – Roque It

He couldn’t handle the heavy ground at Wincanton on Boxing Day but had previously won tidily at Taunton. I’m sure he will appreciate much better ground conditions at Doncaster and could see him being involved wearing cheek pieces first time to sharpen him up a bit.

Best chance of the weekend

14:10 – Miranda

She won this Grade 2 Mares’ race stylishly a year ago and was due to run at Lingfield last weekend until she knocked herself. She was fine by Monday and cantered on Tuesday. While I’d have preferred softer ground for Miranda who is rated 146, she has been in the form of her life and won last time carrying top weight at Ludlow despite giving away twenty lengths at the start. She should be hard to beat.

Outside chance off light weight

15:20 – Grand Sancy

He stayed on steadily to finish fourth not too far behind Kapcorse at Newbury in November and you can put a line through his next run behind Annsam at Ascot just before Christmas. He was jumping badly out to the left that day and will never run again on a right handed track. Grand Sancy could be a lively outsider racing off a light weight on decent ground at a track that should play to his strengths.

Hopeful of National entry

15:20 – Kapcorse

He won the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Chase at Newbury in great style at the end of November on his first start for a year. Though he was raised 8lbs for that victory he has a nice racing weight, stepping slightly up in trip shouldn’t be an issue and he should again be very competitive ridden by Lorcan Williams who has done a lot of schooling on him at home. If can finish in the first four then he will be eligible for entry in the Grand National.

Hopeful to come on from last run

15:55 – Fame And Fun

He ran well enough on his racecourse debut at Wincanton in November and led until he got a bit tired in the last couple of furlongs. He has come on for the outing, has improved for the experience and should be in the shake up.

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