Nicholls' Pride can be redeemed

There may be profit and pleasure this winter from these jumpers to follow
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The Independent Online

TIDAL FURY

6yo handicap chaser Form: 1PP7P-5

Trained: Ferdy Murphy

Has followed a winding road, but one that has led to the door of one of the best trainers. Murphy picked him up at the sales in May, his form having declined since an enterprising career in elite French hurdles. He took well to fences as a novice and an eye-catching comeback at Ascot on ground quicker than ideal suggests he will make hay off a declining handicap mark.

COCKNEY TRUCKER

6yo novice hurdler Form: 18-3

Trained: Philip Hobbs

Hardly caught the imagination with a debut win in a slowly run bumper at Sandown in February, and was sent off at 80-1 for the Champion Bumper at the Festival. Few finished better up the hill and he confirmed he will need a test of stamina when third on his hurdling debut over two miles, again finding his feet late on. Could prove one of the best novices once stepped up in trip.

OEDIPE

6yo handicap chaser Form: 1/01-

Trained: Nicky Henderson

With very few miles on the clock, this French import has exciting scope for progress. After bolting up on his British debut at Kempton on Boxing Day 2006, he disappeared for over a year before resurfacing, down the field, in one of the Festival handicaps. He then produced a superb performance at Aintree, pulling a well-treated rival clear of a big field. He had not absorbed that effort when disappointing at Punchestown, but the Hennessy – his first target – could prove his final start in handicap company, the only caveat being his stamina for a muddy slog.

PRIDE OF DULCOTE

5yo handicap hurdler Form: 9F24-1F

Trained: Paul Nicholls

The horse who put Ruby Walsh in hospital at Cheltenham clearly needs to brush up his jumping, but the handicapper has just as obviously been far too easy on him after his 24-length success at Chepstow. Still tanking along when crashing two out and, granted cut underfoot and a test of stamina, seems guaranteed to win races.

HIGH CHIMES

9yo handicap chaser Form: 5143P1-

Trained: Evan Williams

A masterpiece last season, but he may not be finished yet. Brought along very gently by his excellent trainer, he was primed to peak on the day that mattered. His success in an amateurs' handicap at Cheltenham was his stable's first at the Festival, but he travelled so strongly that it is not inconceivable he could return as a Gold Cup horse.

JAYO

5yo novice chaser Form: 81358-5

Trained: Willie Mullins

From a stable that delays peak form for spring festivals, his progress over hurdles last term was nearly sufficient to win him a valuable handicap at Punchestown. Could be one for the Jewson Novices' Handicap at Cheltenham.

MR BARNACLE

7yo novice chaser Form: 44221-6

Trained: Nicky Richards

The type of old-fashioned chaser long associated with his stable. Do not be deceived by the fact that he was last when trying fences at Carlisle. He had closed on some decent novices before lack of fitness told. That should leave him plenty to work with in modest handicaps, starting at Kelso on Friday.

AIGLE D'OR

5yo hurdler Form: 110-2

Trained: Nicky Henderson

In the same stable and ownership as Binocular, who reappears at Haydock on Saturday, he remains sufficiently under the radar to be available at 25-1 for the Smurfit Champion Hurdle. That looks tempting in view of the way he cruised into contention at Cheltenham last Sunday, failing in a photo to give 16lb to the useful Numide. Stays so well he could improve past Binocular given a strong gallop at the Festival.

GUS MACRAE

4yo bumper horse Form: 3

Trained: Tony Mullins

Though only third in an unremarkable race at Gowran Park, he was declared for the bumper at Cheltenham on Sunday only to be scratched when the ground deteriorated. It seemed significant that his astute trainer was eager to send him over on reconnaissance.

HORSE MAN PASS BY

5yo handicap hurdler Form: 831-0

Trained: Tony Martin

Progressed nicely in maiden hurdles last season and, ridden by an inexperienced jockey over two miles at Punchestown last weekend, he kept on without being given a hard ride. His form does not amount to a great deal, but nor does his handicap mark.

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