Master Tommytucker improving rapidly and deserves his place in Betfair Ascot Chase

Paul Nicholls.

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CHELTENHAM must pass a Friday afternoon inspection ahead of their Trials Day meeting on Saturday after heavy rain left the course waterlogged in places with more rain forecast.

Paul Nicholls is lightly-represented with only one runner at Cheltenham where he has last-start winner Yala Enki in the Grade 2 Paddy Power ‘45 Sleeps To Cheltenham’ Cotswold Chase – but he accounts for four of the 18 entries for the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase on February 20, details of which were revealed this week.

The two miles and five furlong contest is Ascot’s most valuable chase which Nicholls believes is an ‘obvious race’ for Master Tommytucker, a wide-margin winner of a Grade 2 chase at Kempton Park earlier this month.

“Of our four, Master Tommytucker definitely goes for the Betfair Ascot Chase,” said Nicholls who has also entered 2019 Betfair Ascot Chase winner Cyrname, dual King George VI Chase winner Clan des Obeaux and 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup sixth Real Steel.

“It just looks the obvious race for him given the trip and everything, and I don’t see the track posing any problems at all. He is improving rapidly and deserves his place in a race like this,” the 11-time champion trainer said.

“Cyrname’s main target could be the Gold Cup, although we have not made a final decision on that.

“The Betfair Ascot Chase is another option we wanted to have, but if we decide to go for the Gold Cup, then he won’t be able to run in both races. We will have to make our minds up over the next fortnight about what we want to do.

“After how impressive he was in the Charlie Hall, I was keen to aim him towards the Gold Cup. Then obviously what happened at Kempton [pulled up] didn’t help, but I have put a line through that.

“Clan des Obeaux will run in the Denman Chase at Newbury, though with the way the weather is at the moment, we felt it was worth making an entry for Ascot just in case.

“Real Steel is a possible for Ascot, but he would not want to run if the ground is too soft. We may keep him fresh for the Ryanair.”

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