Ni­cholls tar­gets dream dou­ble at Ain­tree hand­i­caps

Evening Times - - SPORT -

PAUL Ni­cholls has his eyes on the two races over the Grand Na­tional fences at Ain­tree on Satur­day.

The Ditcheat han­dler is aim­ing As De Me at the Ran­dox Health Becher Hand­i­cap Chase and Touch Kick for the Vir­gin Bet Grand Sefton Hand­i­cap Chase.

As De Mee, owned by Andy Ste­wart’s fam­ily and ac­tress Dame Judi Dench, is proven over the ob­sta­cles, hav­ing won the Grand Sefton in 2016.

Ni­cholls ex­pects the nine-year-old to put up a bold dis­play. “As De Mee has won over the fences be­fore. He is a big 33-1 each way shot for the race I would say,” he said.

There are two past win­ners among 26 five-day acceptors – Vieux Lion Rouge (2016) and Walk In The Mill (2018) – plus the 2017 Grand Na­tional hero, One For Arthur.

The weights are headed on 11st 12lb by Gor­don El­liott’s Al­pha Des Obeaux and Bal­ly­op­tic from Nigel Twis­ton-Davies’ sta­ble.

Oth­ers in the mix are Abo­li­tion­ist,

Le Breuil, Mys­teree, Mulcahys Hill, Rath­lin Rose, Re­gal Flow, Vin­tage Clouds and Wan­drin Star.

Ni­cholls pins his hopes on Touch Kick in the Grand Sefton, for which there were 19 five-day con­fir­ma­tions.

The top two in the weights, Casablanca Mix and Gold Present are trained by Nicky Hen­der­son.

Ul­tragold, win­ner of the Topham Chase in 2017 and 2018, could bid for an­other tri­umph over the big fences. There is a likely French raider in It’s Jen­nifer while among oth­ers of in­ter­est are Fly­ing An­gel, Kayf Ad­ven­ture and Kil­laro Boy.

Na­tive River and Might Bite fea­ture among eight en­tries for the Vir­gin Bets Price Boost Many Clouds Chase.

Hen­der­son has also put in Top Notch.

The Brian El­li­son-trained Definitly Red could go for a third suc­ces­sive win in this race, but is also still in the Becher at this stage.

Aso, Black Cor­ton, Kild­is­art and Out­lander make up the octet.

Trainer Paul Ni­cholls

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