Paul Nicholles admits that his biggest chances of glory at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival could lie with two of his leading novices.
The ten-time champion National Hunt trainer, who has been the leading trainer at the festival on six occasions – will not be carrying many favourites at the showpiece event in March.
But despite looking short of any established superstars this time around, he does still have confidence in duo Politologue and Arpege D’Alene
Nicholls hopes Politologue will have a big say in JLT Novices’ Chase and said: “He is rated 152 off the back of that and that is not far off what Denman was at the end of his novice career.
“I think there is more improvement to come on better ground. The JLT is what he will run in. He is the ideal horse to run in the JLT.
“If you look at it now, he is probably third or fourth favourite for the JLT and there is not a lot between them. The favourite (Top Notch) probably deserves to be on form.
“Politologue has a big chance, though.”
Arpege D’Alene is a fancy he has running in the JT McNamara National Hunt Chase.
“He is a good staying chaser. He won a novice chase at Aintree in November and was second in the Pertemps last year. He has been running well over fences,” he said.
“The way he stays, four miles will suit him really well. He is by Dom Alco and there will be no question in him staying.”
Cliffs Of Dover
One of Nicholls big names at the festival could be Cliffs Of Dover – but there is some doubt over his fitness.
“It might be a race against time to get him there. If he doesn’t come right, he will have to go to Aintree,” he said.
“He is a decent horse and has won six. We’ve placed him quite well, but he is a good horse. If we can’t quite get him back this season for whatever reason, he will be back next season and he really wants looking after.”