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Donald McCain: "Sydney Paget likes proper soft ground and he jumps well"

  PICTURE: Sam Lawrie  

McCain keen on Sydney Paget's National chances

SYDNEY PAGET, who was made favourite for the Coral Welsh Grand National after an easy win at Haydock on Saturday, has been allotted 10st 8lb following the release of the weights for the Chepstow marathon.

Popular veteran Tidal Bay tops them on 11st 12lb, while last year's runner-up Teaforthree is on 11st 2lb.

The Minack, who has not run since February last year, is next best on 11st 1lb.

Like Tidal Bay, he is trained by Paul Nicholls, who also has the smart Rocky Creek (11st) among his seven-strong squad for the December 28 showpiece, a race he has won once as a jockey and twice as a trainer.

However, Sydney Paget could be the name on everyone's lips if his Haydock stroll is anything to go on.

The Donald McCain-trained six-year-old, a general 10-1 chance, was ridden handily and scored after being eased down over 3m1f on soft ground.

His official rating has gone up 13lb to 145 and, speaking just after the race, McCain said: "I've always liked him. I put him in the Welsh National and we'll definitely consider it. He likes proper soft ground and he jumps well so it could be just the race for him."

Also released on Wednesday were entries for the £100,000 December Gold Cup at Cheltenham on December 14.

Paddy Power Gold Cup winner Johns Spirit was among the 35 possibles, although trainer Jonjo O'Neill has yet to commit the six-year-old to the race.

O'Neill, who saddled Exotic Dancer to win both races in 2006, said: "We will wait and see how he gets over the Paddy Power Gold Cup first. So far he seems okay, but he has not really done anything since.

"We were delighted with his performance in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, but he has gone up 9lb and that is a lot of weight.

"I don't think he has improved this year, he has just got stronger. He is a six-year-old and is still a relatively young horse."

The Tom George-trained Mail De Bievre, fourth in a Listed race at Auteuil last time, could also run.

He was fifth in the Denman Chase last season before being well beaten in the Champion Chase.

"He has come out of Auteuil okay," said George. "He was still there jumping the last and just got a bit tired on the run in. It was a platform to build on and that's what we need to do.

"The handicapper has given him a chance, but he needed to and now the horse wants two or three good runs under his belt to get back into the swing of things." 

Cards to follow ...

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