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Paul Nicholls at Cheltenham - A guide to all of his Festival runners on Friday


We've reached the final day of this year's Cheltenham Festival and Paul Nicholls has been giving the Betfair blog his expert verdict on all of his rides on Friday.


Cheltenham 14:10 - Diego Du Charmil

Did us proud in the Fred Winter at the Festival a year ago when the line came just in time for him. He has progressed well this season, winning twice and really enjoyed himself last time at Musselburgh where he cruised home with his ears pricked which will have done his confidence the world of good.

The handicapper reacted by raising him 9lbs to a mark of 149 which makes it tough for Diego Du Charmil who wants good ground and will make a smashing chaser. I am hopeful rather than confident about his chances.

Cheltenham 15:30 - Saphir Du Rheu

A couple of years ago I thought he would go to the top as a chaser but there have been one or two hiccups along the way because he has taken a while to get the hang of fences.

He is getting there now, and was only just beaten over this track in January giving lumps of weight to a decent novice before enjoying a confidence booster when hacking up at Kelso a month ago.

While Saphir Du Rheu is in good form at home I am under no illusions about the task he faces. If he finishes fifth or six I will be delighted. Anything better would be a bonus.

Cheltenham 16:10 - Pacha Du Polder

This horse was the centre of attention a year ago when ridden in this race by Victoria Pendleton who was a raw novice against some of the best amateurs around. For them to finish a close fifth, less than three lengths behind On The Fringe, was a wonderful performance by both of them.

We ran Pacha Du Polder several times before Cheltenham to give Victoria much needed experience and I'd say the horse has had a better preparation this time with just the one run yielding a comfortable success at Bangor.

He prefers good ground and Bryony Frost gets on really well with him.

Cheltenham 16:10 - Wonderful Charm

Has had loads of problems down the years but is now flying again after winning both his hunter chases this season with plenty in hand.

Wonderful Charm needs good ground because he still has major issues with his breathing so I am praying the rain holds off until after racing.

He has a lot going for him as he jumps really well, is a sound stayer and has a top class rider in Katie Walsh whose brother Ruby won so many big races for us. This horse is very smart if everything goes right. Big chance if it doesn't rain.

Cheltenham 16:50 - Lac Fontana

Won the County Hurdle three years ago but missed last season with a leg injury and although he has had his problems this winter he ran very well last time, travelling nicely to two out before not quite getting the trip on really soft ground at Newbury.

Lac Fontana has come on for that run, will not mind cut in the ground and is ridden by Jack Sherwood who won this for us on Ibis Du Rheu 12 months ago.

He's been a classy horse for us in the past and hopefully he can get involved here if he can take a step forward from his last run.

Cheltenham 16:50 - Tommy Silver

One of our better juveniles last season and has progressed nicely this winter, winning snugly last time at Taunton with the benefit of a good ride by Stan Sheppard which booked their ticket for this race.

It was a perfect rehearsal for the pair of them. Tommy Silver is another of mine that doesn't want any rain to change the ground. If it holds off he has a squeak in a fiercely competitive race.

Cheltenham 17:30 - Dodging Bullets

Won the Champion Chase two years ago when he carried all before him but he is not as good now after a niggling splint problem that sidelined him for much of last season.

As Dodging Bullets is no longer up to taking on the best at level weights it makes sense to go down the handicap route as he has dropped to a mark of 151 which gives him half a chance back at two miles in a race that is always run at a furious gallop which will suit him.

With Sam Twiston-Davies choosing to ride Le Prezien we've snapped up an old ally Noel Fehily for Dodging Bullets, and he hasn't exactly had a bad week has he?

Noel is very much the man of the moment and won a Grade 1 on Dodging Bullets the only time he rode him.

Cheltenham 17:30 - Le Prezien

Has had a decent first season over fences, winning twice before finding the ground a bit too testing last time when finishing third behind Top Notch at Sandown early in February.

It's a bonus that Le Prezien has form over further than two miles because they go such a pace in this race you need a horse to stay to get up the hill.

He is a horse on the up but does need to jump well to have a chance and his schooling has been excellent recently. Should be right in the mix in an open race.

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Paul Nicholls at Cheltenham - A guide to all of his Festival runners on Friday

We've reached the final day of this year's Cheltenham Festival and Paul Nicholls has been giving the Betfair blog his expert verdict on all of his rides on Friday.

Read more »

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