Saphir Du Rheu heads Hennessy charge for Nicholls
Saphir Du Rheu: generally 10-1 third favourite for the Newbury showpiece
PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos) Saphir heads Hennessy challenge for Nicholls By Jon Lees 7:55PM 9 NOV 2016
PAUL NICHOLLS has half a dozen Hennessy Gold Cup possibles, but the champion trainer has eyes only for Saphir Du Rheu and Vicente for now.
Saphir Du Rheu is generally 10-1 third favourite for the Newbury showpiece on Saturday fortnight and his trainer believes his reappearance third at Ascot in the Sodexo Gold Cup will prove to have served a useful purpose.
Nicholls, who also has Silviniaco Conti, Southfield Theatre, Irish Saint and Virak entered for the Hennessy, said: "Saphir Du Rheu and Vicente are the intended runners. Saphir Du Rheu schooled yesterday and the experience and run at Ascot definitely won’t be lost on him.
"I want to get a few kilos off him because he still looks big and well. Last year he wasn't finishing, but he finished really strongly at Ascot and I felt it was quite a nice prep for the Hennessy. If he's back to anywhere near his best, he'd have a big chance.
"Vicente won the Scottish National but he does like left-handed tracks. He wouldn’t want the ground desperately soft. He's a hard horse to place but goes well fresh and if he’s improved he's not without a chance. It's a good race for a second-season chaser."
Irish Saint could run over hurdles on Saturday and is described as a "possible", while Southfield Theatre and Virak are rated "unlikely". Silviniaco Conti has been ruled out.
Local showing right signs
Ben Pauling, whose Drumacoo has failed to qualify for the race, is happy with the condition of Local Show, who can be backed at 50-1.
"The race is very much on the cards for Local Show," said the trainer. "He's in exceptionally good form. He was supposed to go to Ascot but it was far too quick. We're looking forward to completing final preparations."