PAUL Nicholls hopes Act Of Valour can keep his hat in the ring for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival by winning at Doncaster today.
Act Of Valour is likely to be a warm order for the bet365 Summit Juvenile Hurdle after not putting a foot wrong on his debut for Nicholls at Newcastle.
A smart performer on the level in Ireland, he is now owned by Max McNeil, who has been lucky enough to have had several smart juveniles in the past.
Nicholls said: “He schooled at home on Thursday morning. He is a nice horse and we really like him.
“He won well last time at Newcastle, so we will see how he gets on now we are stepping him up in class.”
It will be quite easy for Nicholls to know where he stands after the race as Alan King’s City Dreamer is a decent yardstick, having won two of his six starts over hurdles.
“He won well at Fontwell and Market Rasen and was not at all disgraced in going that was too soft for him in the Wensleydale at Wetherby,” said King. “The handicapper clearly thinks a bit of him as he has him on a mark of 132, and I hope he’s right, but the better the surface, the better his chance.”
The Doncaster card also sees Irish Roe, owned and trained by Northallerton farmer Peter Atkinson, line up in the handicap hurdle. The exciting prospect – the mount of Henry Brooke – has already recorded three wins over obstacles this season, including a victory on Town Moor on her last appearance.
Colin Tizzard expects Cue Card to have just three more runs before heading into retirement, with the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day looking unlikely.
A heavy faller in Wetherby’s Charlie Hall Chase, the multiple Grade One winner was in the frame for the Christmas showpiece earlier in the week and was briefly considered for the rearranged Peterborough Chase.
However, following talks with owner Jean Bishop, Tizzard is now leaning towards the Ascot Grade One he won in February last year.
“We probably won’t run Cue Card in the King George, we will just mind him. The King George is red hot,” said Tizzard. “We just want to have three runs in the spring, then retire him. I think that’s what we will do.”
He added: “We will go to the Ascot Chase, then either the Ryanair or Gold Cup and then on to Aintree. Then I will have him as my hunter.”
Meanwhile Nicky Henderson has confirmed that Whisper will take on stablemate Might Bite in the King George.
Tingle Creek winner Politologue will be given an entry in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on December 27 as Paul Nicholls considers an alternative route towards the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
Nicholls had been inclined to aim the grey at the Clarence House Chase at Ascot in January, but the John Hales-owned six-year-old could instead return to the fray over the festive period after last Saturday’s Sandown success under teenage riding sensation Harry Cobden.