Nicholls favours Ascot chase return for Saphir

Saphir Du Rheu was favourite for the Hennessy last year

PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos) Nicholls favours Ascot return for Saphir By Richard Birch 2:31PM 27 OCT 2016

PAUL NICHOLLS is leaning towards sending Saphir Du Rheu to Ascot on Saturday for his seasonal reappearance, but plans on Thursday remained fluid.

The seven-year-old proved a disappointment over fences last season after starting the campaign perceived by many to be a realistic Cheltenham Gold Cup contender.

Saphir Du Rheu has three entries on Saturday, comprising the Grade 3 Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Ascot, and Wetherby's Grade 2 bet365 Hurdle and bet365 Charlie Hall Chase.

Owner Andy Stewart had indicated this week the hurdle option at Wetherby was favoured, but Nicholls said on Thursday: "I'm leaning slightly towards Ascot. I want to keep an eye on the ground, and also the likely runners.

"I'll speak to the owners on Thursday night and make a decision. We might even decide to wait, and not run at all on Saturday. We'll have to see."

Saphir Du Rheu is generally 5-1 favourite for the Sodexo Gold Cup, and 5-1 with many firms for the bet365 Hurdle.

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