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Paul Nicholls: Stage can Star in same Grade 1 that Bravemansgame won

The festive racing continues with more top class action at Doncaster and Newbury on Wednesday, and Paul Nicholls has plenty of runners across both cards…

“Best Chance: Stage Star – 15:05 Newbury. He continues to progress and is ready for this step up in class.”

Doncaster

Galloping track in his favour

11:55 – Gala de Corton

He has been knocking on the door in novice company since a wind op in the summer and ought to go well in this tight looking conditional jockeys’ handicap. I do think a big galloping track like Doncaster is in his favour.

In form but this is no easy task

12:28 – Le Chiffre d’Or

He has done well this season, winning two ordinary races at Hereford quite nicely, most recently over two miles, three and a half furlongs five weeks ago. That means he has to carry a 10 lbs penalty so it is handy to be able to use Angus Cheleda’s 5lbs claim. This qualifier for the EBF final at Sandown doesn’t look an easy task for Le Chiffre d’Or.

Schooled well since mishap and can make amends

13:38 – Thyme White

EXC1.24

Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Bryony Frost
Age: 5
Weight: 11st 8lbs
OR: 134

He made a highly pleasing debut over fences at Wincanton, jumping slickly, before disgracing himself at Ascot just before Christmas by trying to duck out at the first fence and unshipping Harry Cobden. He was then foot perfect jumping every fence out in front on his own. Thyme White has never shown any signs of wayward behaviour before and has schooled well at home since Ascot. Hopefully he can put things right this time.

Step up in trip will suit if ground not too soft

14:13 – Skatman

He won nicely at Newton Abbot before finishing sixth of twenty in a competitive handicap at Cheltenham where he stayed on in the closing stages after being outpaced. He is not the easiest to train and didn’t come down the hill at Cheltenham as the race was coming to the boil. The step up to three miles should suit Skatman who has more to offer provided the ground is not too soft.

Good chance of going close

14:50 – Cat Tiger

He gave his enthusiastic owner rider David Maxwell a great spin when fifth over the Grand National fences in the Grand Sefton last month. Cat Tiger has since been dropped 2lbs to 132 which looks a fair mark so I’d like to think he has a nice chance of going close.

Newbury

Ran with promise last time

14:00 – Red Risk

He hasn’t won for a while, but ran with promise when third on his comeback over fences at Market Rasen before finishing out of the money at this track last time. He’s running here because he is slightly better handicapped over hurdles.

Lovely prospect is working great at home

15:05 – Stage Star

SBK6/4

EXC2.78

Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Harry Cobden
Age: 5
Weight: 11st 7lbs
OR:

We won this Grade 1 race 12 months ago with Bravemansgame and Stage Star has followed the same route, winning stylishly at Chepstow and Newbury. He is a lovely prospect who has taken brilliantly to hurdles, is working great at home and has more than earned a shot at the top level.

Has come on plenty for latest outing

15:35 – Flash Collonges

He was in at the deep end on his debut over fences against Ahor Senor at Newbury last month but needed that run badly after surgery on his eye and his wind. So he was well behind the rest of our string in terms of fitness and has come on plenty for the outing. Flash Collonges ran well at this track a year ago and I’m hopeful he can be competitive in this novice handicap.

Wednesday 29 December, 3.05pm

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