Longer trips are the order of the day for Paul Nicholls on Saturday who saddles five runners on the card, three of which look set to be suited by a step up in distance…

Should enjoy this step up in trip

12:40 – Gaulois

A half-bother to the prolific Alcala, he also runs in the colours of the Owners Group. Gaulois needed the experience when he was third on his debut for us at Chepstow a month ago and will enjoy stepping up in trip to almost three miles at Ascot. This looks a nice opportunity for him in a competitive novice handicap.

In grip of handicapper but longer trip may suit

13:50 – Diego du Charmil

Our two runners in this, Diego du Charmil and Dolos, have done brilliantly for us over the years but they both look to be in the grip of the handicapper now. The way Diego ran last time at this track suggests he is ready to go up in distance to this trip of almost two and a half miles. It is definitely worth a try because he travelled nicely into the race that day before keeping on when the leaders quickened away from him.

Tough task but better ground will suit

13:50 – Dolos

Life is also hard for Dolos who has been struggling a bit for form and is still on too high a mark to be competitive. Maybe it is a case of him starting on the downward slope. But better ground will suit him at Ascot and I’m hoping he might bounce back in the spring when he is usually at his peak.

Settles much better so worth a try at this trip

15:00 – Grand Sancy

I was very pleased with the way Grand Sancy settled at Newbury last time before keeping on steadily to finish fourth to his stable mate Kapcorse. That was his first try at two and three quarter miles, he got the trip well and Harry Skelton, his rider that day, encouraged me to give him a crack at three miles. Bryony Frost said much the same when she has ridden Grand Sancy. He settles so much better these days so I’m leaving off the hood he usually wears. Solid chance on drying ground that suits.

Improving but this is tough with steep rise in weights

15:35 – Samarrive

While I was hopeful of a big run at Sandown last time I wasn’t expecting him to hack up by eight and a half lengths. He needs to go right handed so this valuable handicap was the obvious target for Samarrive but the task looks a lot tougher after the handicapper put him up 11lbs. Progressive horses are always interesting and he is clearly improving but I really don’t know if he can defy that steep rise in the weights.

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