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Solo bids to show Elite class at Wincanton

Paul Nicholls is keeping the faith with Solo as he makes his seasonal bow in the Unibet Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.

The four-year-old made quite a splash on his British debut back in February, hacking up by 13 lengths in the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton to add to a previous Auteuil victory for Guillaume Macaire.

Upped to Grade One company in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham, Solo fell short in finishing a 10-and-a-half-length eighth – but Nicholls believes that effort can be excused and is keen to see how his charge, who has been gelded since, shapes up on his return.

He said: “He’d probably done enough in France and had never seen a track like Cheltenham before.

“Horses like Clan Des Obeaux and Frodon ran in the Triumph and finished in midfield like him. I’d put a line through Cheltenham – he’s had a nice break, he’s been gelded and has definitely improved.

“This track is much more like Kempton, where he won the Adonis. He’s schooled great and is working well – I’m very excited about him.

“We’ll stay over hurdles this year, and Saturday will tell us an awful lot.”

Sceau Royal was a winner at Ffos Las on his reappearance
Sceau Royal was a winner at Ffos Las on his reappearance (David Davies/PA)

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Nicholls also fields Diego Du Charmil in Sayturday’s Grade Two heat, while 2016 victor Sceau Royal represents Alan King and arrives on the back of victory in the Welsh Champion Hurdle.

Colin Tizzard’s Master Debonair is an intriguing runner, having been off the track since disappointing in his Cheltenham Festival prep back in February, with a planned Aintree outing scuppered by the cancellation of the Grand National meeting.

Brandon Castle and Teqany complete the six-strong line-up.

Grand Sancy loves a trip to Wincanton
Grand Sancy loves a trip to Wincanton (Clint Hughes/PA)

Nicholls fields Wincanton fan Grand Sancy in the “Rising Stars” Novices’ Chase, in which he faces just two rivals.

He has won the last two of his five outings over fences, also finishing third at Grade One level on his chasing debut, and arrives with a Listed success at Chepstow already in the bank this season.

The trainer said: “This has been the plan ever since he won at Chepstow.

“He’s a good, solid jumper who loves good ground, so I think he’s got a great chance

“He’s a novice until December 1, and the experience he had in those good races last season will stand him in good stead.

“He ran in the Elite Hurdle last year and was only just beaten – he loves Wincanton.

“He’s a good, solid jumper who loves good ground, so I think he’s got a great chance.”

Bryony Frost teams up with Present Man again
Bryony Frost teams up with Present Man again (Steve Davies/PA)

Present Man and Bryony Frost will try to repeat their victories of 2017 and 2018 in the Badger Ales Silver Trophy Chase, with Nicholls also fielding Danny Whizzbang and My Way.

The 10-year-old Present Man warmed up for this with a veterans’ chase win at Chepstow last month, when he returned from a 335-day break.

Nicholls said: “He’s only gone up 2lb for winning at Chepstow, and we went there thinking he’d need the run a little. We had that as a prep race, so he surprised us a little bit.

“He looks great. I don’t think he was ever right last season. If he runs like he did at Chepstow the other day, on his beloved course and the ground is fast, he must have a leading chance.”

While Present Man tops the weights, My Way is at the other end of the scale with Bryan Carver also taking a hand 5lb off the recent Stratford hurdles winner.

Nicholls added: “I’ve always thought the Badger Ales would be a great race for My Way. He’s a maiden over fences, but he ran some nice races last year and is on a nice little mark.

“He won well over hurdles the other day, really as a prep for this. If the ground doesn’t dry up too much, he’s definitely got a chance.”

The three-mile-one-furlong contest has drawn 15 runners, including Kim Bailey’s likely favourite and hat-trick seeker El Presente and the Harry Fry-trained Just A Sting, who was fourth in the race last year.

Goshen may head to Ascot after Elite absence

Goshen could be rerouted to Ascot later this month after a combination of unsuitable ground and an imperfect scope ruled him out of the Unibet Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.

Trainer Gary Moore had earmarked Saturday’s Grade Two as a first outing over obstacles for Goshen since his unlucky unseating of rider Jamie Moore at the final flight when in a commanding lead in the Triumph Hurdle back in March.

Goshen has had two outings on the Flat in recent weeks. But the Wincanton ground – which is described as good, good to soft in places – and a minor health issue means the four-year-old may be seen next in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot on November 21.

He said: “The ground wasn’t ideal, and everything with the horse is fine – but his scope wasn’t perfect, so we will get that right now.

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“It’s nothing serious, and we’ll have a look at the Ascot Hurdle.”

Joshua Moore was due to partner Goshen at Wincanton in place of his brother Jamie, who is still recovering after fracturing his sternum and back in a fall at Fontwell in August.

Gary Moore reports his son to be progressing well – but when asked if Jamie could be fit to ride at Ascot, he added: “That will be the doctor’s decision, not mine or Jamie’s.

“He’s doing fantastically well, but you’ve got to respect a very serious injury like that.”

Goshen was one of three not declared for Wincanton’s feature race, along with Ballyandy and Song For Someone – which leaves six contenders including Paul Nicholls’ Solo, who reappears following a disappointing Cheltenham effort back in March.

A 10-length winner of the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle on his British bow at Kempton in February, Solo could finish only eighth in the Triumph Hurdle at the Festival.

He is the pick of stable jockey Harry Cobden, leaving Bryony Frost to team up with Nicholls’ other runner Diego Du Charmil – who was third on his return at Kempton last month.

Master Debonair was an impressive winner of an Ascot Grade Two on his third hurdles outing last term, but Colin Tizzard’s charge has been off the track since disappointing in his Festival prep run in February – with connections deciding to head straight to Aintree, which was subsequently cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sceau Royal won this race in 2016 and is back again for Alan King, with victory in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las already in the bag this term.

Teqany won twice in September but was a length and a quarter behind Diego Du Charmil when fourth at Kempton, with Neil King’s Brandon Castle completing the line up.